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Jail voter drive complete; Guzman death ruled ‘natural’


Greg Harman
gharman@sacurrent.com

The first voter registration drive by a local organization inside Bexar County Jail wrapped up last week, ensuring that several hundred absentee ballots will be headed into the jail become November.

“We wanted to make it possible that inmates serving misdemeanor sentences and those that haven’t gone to court yet are able to exercise their Constitutional rights,” said Antonio Diaz, of the Texas Indigenous Council, who led the effort.

Diaz hopes to return closer to the general election in November and later expand the effort to other county jails around the state to make sure the poor are not wrongly penalized by being denied a chance to vote. “If you’re too poor, you cannot bail out, so you’re serving over a year’s time waiting for court,” Diaz said.


Meanwhile, the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s office has ruled a January in-custody death at the jail was the result of natural causes.

43-year-old Ricardo Guzman died two days after turning himself in for a drug-related offense. He was detoxing off of heroin, according to jail records released to the Current today through an Open Records request.

The Bexar County District Attorney’s office had attempted to withhold an inch-high stack of documents related to Guzman, but was ordered to release them by the Texas Attorney General’s office.

I wrote in January:

“He turned himself in on Tuesday and Thursday is when the police came to my mother-in-law’s house and announced he had passed away,” said Kathy Ruiz, Guzman’s sister-in-law. “They wouldn’t give her any information as far as to what happened. The only thing they said was they found him on the floor and that he had passed. They wouldn’t let her go identify him. They said he had already been identified.”


If it matters, we now know Guzman didn’t die on the floor, but in bed, according to the jail’s custodial death report.

A report by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division reported: "the victim had informed the medical staff that he had been using herion off and on for about 13 years. He further advised that he had just used Heroin earlier that morning … "

Guzman was placed in a detox program and was taking medication, the investigation found.

The Medical Examiner’s Office attributes Guzman’s death to a heart disease known as cardiomyopathy, in which the heart becomes inflamed, resulting in heart failure in some cases. A secondary cause of death was listed as a fatty liver, a spokesperson for the examiner’s office said.

Calls to the jail seeking comment were not immediately returned. A record number of suicides at the jail last has brought a lot of attention to the facility and operations there.

Posted by gharman on 4/22/2010 4:39:15 PM
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