SAN ANTONIO – The attorney of a former Bexar County Jail inmate held for months on a technical parole violation has filed a federal lawsuit accusing state officials of violating his client’s constitutional rights.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Austin on May 14 on behalf of Narciso Garcia against the director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and several members of the state’s board of pardons and paroles. The suit requests that Garcia be allowed to self-isolate and receive treatment at a San Antonio Veterans Affairs hospital, instead of being confined to house arrest at a home where his 80-year-old mother lives.
Garcia, a veteran, is on parole after serving a stint in prison on a 2017 felony drug possession drug charge in Bexar County, records show.
Prior to being released from the Bexar County Jail May 6, Garcia had been held since early February on a nonviolent state parole violation, despite having a health condition that he and his attorney believe made him more susceptible to dying if he contracted COVID-19.
Garcia was ordered to spend 45 days at an Intermediate Sanctions Facility in early April, but remained at the jail after state officials, citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, temporarily suspended inmates from being transferred to state prisons and treatment facilities.
“Certainly a blind eye has been turned. And we’re seeing a callousness that’s inexcusable. These people have not been sentenced to death,” said Garcia’s attorney Trey Moore.
As of Wednesday, 274 inmates at the jail were waiting to be transferred to state facilities, a BCSO spokesperson confirmed.
The price for the county to continue housing these inmates has passed $622,000 and keeps climbing as the temporary ban remains in place, according to figures released Wednesday by BCSO officials.
More than 360 people at the jail, including detention officers and inmates, have tested positive for COVID-19. A vast majority of those cases remain active, according to BCSO figures.
A TDCJ spokesman said the agency is aware of Garcia’s lawsuit but declined to comment on it.
The suit claims that TDCJ officials violated Garcia’s constitutional rights during both his stay in jail and his current home confinement.
The constitutional rights listed in the suit include due process, effective assistance of counsel and cruel and unusual punishment.
Moore said if Garcia is allowed to seek treatment at the VA, he will finally be allowed to again receive proper treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“I think this is an excellent opportunity to take a look at the process and maybe reengineer it because it certainly hasn’t served our community in this crisis,” said Moore.