Araguz booking raises questions about Harris County jail’s treatment of transgender inmates

Judge Vanessa Valasquez

Judge Vanessa Valasquez

According to the Houston Chronicle, Nikki Araguz has been booked into the Harris County Jain after arriving 40 minutes late for a scheduled court appearance on Friday. The court date was to allow Araguz to plead guilty to charges that she stole a watch from an acquaintance last year. Under the proposed plea bargain Araguz would have paid $2,600 in restitution and served 15 days in county jail. State District Judge Vanessa Velasquez, a Republican first appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Perry, responded to Araguz’ apologies for her tardiness with “It’s too late for sorry,” ordering bailiffs to escort her to a hold cell next to the courtroom.

Araguz is the widow of firefighter Capt. Thomas Araguz who died in the line of duty last year. Capt. Araguz’s ex-wife and mother have sued to claim the portion of his survivor’s benefits reserved for the spouses of slain firefighters, claiming that since Nikki Araguz was identified as male at birth the marriage was invalid under Texas’ laws prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriage. Mrs. Araguz’s birth certificate identifies her as female, as does her state issued identification.

Araguz’s booking has raised questions about the Harris County’s treatment of transgender detainees. The Sheriff Department’s Public Information Inquiry System listed Araguz using her male birth name on Friday. They have since removed the name from the site’s searchable database but have retained the record, listing it under the department’s “special person number” (SPN) filing system. The SPN record includes Araguz’s birth name. The Sheriff’s office has not returned calls from Houstini asking why the department is not using Araguz’s legal name and if this is common practice.

According to a friend who has visited Araguz at the jail her identity bracelet correctly identifies her gender as “F” – but reflects Araguz’s birth name, not her legal name. Araguz is segregated from the general jail population, but can receive visitors during regular visiting hours.

Araguz will remain in the Harris County Jail until Jan 25 when she is scheduled to appear again before Judge Velasquez.

—  admin

WATCH: 6 Marble Falls teens accused of sending threatening anti-gay texts to opposing QB

A plea bargain is likely for six Marble Falls teens accused of sending anti-gay and threatening text messages to a Dripping Springs football player. KXAN in Austin reports:

The messages contained homosexual slurs and profanities.

An arrest warrant shows one message said, “You better be prepared to get ripped limb from to ******* limb Friday night you big *****.”

Another read, “Oh, so you are going to be a little ***** and not text back *****?”

Lt. Leroy Opiela with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office said the Dripping Springs football player found those messages on his phone and told his parents.

An upcoming football game between the Marble Falls Mustangs and Dripping Springs Tigers was apparently behind the messages.

The six 17-year-olds are charged with harssment via telephone, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. However, under the plea deal, they’ll avoid jail time in exchange for completing community service, write letters of apology and take a bullying class.

—  John Wright