SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio man remains at the Bexar County Jail on a nonviolent state parole violation, despite having a health condition that he and his attorney believe makes him more susceptible to dying if he contracts COVID-19.
Narciso Garcia has been in custody at the jail — where at least 10 inmates and some staff members, including a nurse, have tested positive for the virus — since Feb. 4, after state authorities issued a warrant for his arrest over a parole violation, court records show.
Garcia, a veteran, had been on parole after serving a stint in prison on a 2017 felony drug possession drug charge in Bexar County, records show.
Late last year, Garcia was taking courses at the Art Institute of San Antonio and attending treatment meetings when he suffered a mental health episode and missed a meeting with his parole officer, his attorney Trey Moore told KSAT12 Defenders Thursday.
“He was essentially out of pocket for one month and he voluntarily turned himself in,” said Moore, who added that his client was cited for technical violations that also included missing treatment meetings.
According to the attorney, Garcia suffers from Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder in which a flare-up causes the body’s immune system to attack its own nerves.
“There’s no ability to isolate every person that’s in jail there,” said Moore.
As of Thursday, the jail population was at 3,034 people, down nearly 800 since last month, when officials deployed policies aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 at the jail, among staff and within the local community.
Since then and despite those efforts, at least 10 inmates, 20 deputies and several auxiliary staff members have tested positive for the deadly virus.
A BCSO spokeswoman released a statement claiming that her agency does not have the authority to release Garcia:
“Parole Violation Warrants are not issued by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, but rather by the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. We are unable to release any inmate in our custody who are currently being held on a parole violation, as they are remanded without bond by the Board. Additionally, we have been working with Parole to perform video interviews to include extra hearings throughout the jail. Although we cannot comment on any specific inmates medical condition, all inmates in our custody are provided treatment by University Health Systems that require medical attention.”
Moore said his client was ordered to serve 45 days at an Intermediate Sanction Facility, a short-term center where people are detained instead of prison after they have violated parole or probation.
However, Garcia said the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s temporary suspension of inmate transfers to its facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Garcia to remain at the jail.
“He’s stuck there. He’s not doing any time. Nothing’s being counted towards him or anything,” said Moore.
A spokesman for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles confirmed a hearing for Garcia took place April 6 and released the following statement: “On April 7, 2020, a parole panel voted to place him into an Intermediate Sanctions Facility. If a request is submitted by an attorney, a response will be provided to that attorney.”
Moore said he has filed a motion to re-open the hearing.
He said he also provided the panel a release plan for Garcia that included him seeking weeks of treatment at a Veterans Affairs facility to “even out his meds.”
“If this COVID-19 goes through the jail population it’s going to strain all the hard work that the city has done,” said Moore.
Garcia, whose criminal history in Bexar County includes arrests for burglary, family violence and failure to identify himself to a peace officer, also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Moore, who cited Garcia’s military service as a contributing factor.