A 62-year-old man died Thursday after an apparent medical emergency at the Harris County Jail, where he was being held on a parole violation related to convictions on multiple counts of sexual assault.

Raymond Cooper, who had been incarcerated for nearly two months, is the 12th person to die in the jail’s custody this year. State regulators and local advocates have criticized the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for failing to keep people incarcerated people safe and providing inadequate medical care, though it’s not immediately clear whether any issues at the jail contributed to Cooper’s death.

Authorities said Cooper was transported to a hospital Thursday morning after suffering a health issue in the jail’s medical ward. He was pronounced dead at about 5:30 a.m.

Cooper did not have any “obvious physical injuries” prior to his death, sheriff officials said. They have not released any additional information about the circumstances of his death.

Cooper was arrested July 15 at a Texas Department of Criminal Justice halfway house in El Dorado, a neighborhood northeast of Houston, after violating his parole, Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Thomas Gilliland said.

Cooper had been out on parole since December. A representative from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles did not know what Cooper did to violate his parole. His parole was reinstated Wednesday, the day before his death, the representative said.

Cooper was convicted on sexual assault charges in 1987 and 1992 in rural counties east of Dallas. He was sentenced to more than 12 years and 25 years, respectively. In 1995, he pled guilty to possessing a deadly weapon in a correctional facility located between Houston and Dallas.

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State regulators have deemed the Harris County Jail non-compliant with Texas safety standards for about a year. A notice of non-compliance issued in late August detailed ongoing failures to check on incarcerated people within required time windows and staffing shortages.

The jail is on track to see fewer deaths in 2023 compared to previous years. Twenty-seven people died in custody last year and 21 died in 2021, totals that have led to outcry from local advocates and families of the deceased about conditions in the jail.

At least 52 lawsuits have been filed in local and federal courts in the last 10 years over jail conditions, according to a Houston Landing review of such cases.

Sheriff’s officials said Cooper’s death has been reported to state regulators. The Texas Rangers are investigating the case, as required by state law.

Update, Sept. 8, 12:15 p.m.: This story has been updated to include additional information about Raymond Cooper's criminal convictions and parole.

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Alex Stuckey is an investigative reporter for the Houston Landing. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Prize and 2022 Livingston Award winner. In 2022, she received the Charles E. Green Award for Star Reporter of the...

Jacob Carpenter is a team leader for the Houston Landing, helping to guide news coverage and oversee reporters. Jacob has reported for multiple newsrooms over the years, most recently as a freelance newsletter...