Even though their tears fell over the loss of their daughter three year ago, Texarkana, Ark., residents Jennifer and Andy Houser still lovingly celebrated what would have been her birthday this month.
The couple, along with several of their other family members and friends, joyously sent dozens of helium balloons skyward in front of the Bi-State Justice Building jail as a way of not only memorializing Morgan Angerbauer's brief but meaningful life but also to continue to bring awareness to the need for critical and timely inmate medical care—especially for those who are medically dependent.
Angerbauer, who would have been 24 years old earlier this month chad she lived, was an insulin-dependent diabetic and just about one week away from her 21st birthday when she succumbed to her medical condition and perished July 1, 2016, while being held in a Bi-State medical observation jail cell. She apparently died after being denied access to insulin for at least 23 hours.
Specifically, Angerbauer, who had been diagnosed as having diabetes when she was just 18 months old, died of diabetic ketoacidosis while she remained incarcerated.
A licensed vocational nurse who formerly worked in the Bi-State Justice Center jail for LaSalle Corrections, a private jail management company, was charged with misdemeanor negligent homicide in connection with Angerbauer's death. The nurse eventually plead guilty to the charge.
Both Jennifer and Andy House went before the Texas State Legislature on March 28 of this year to testify about their daughters death. Their testimony helped lead the legislature to approve an act which strengthens the state's jailer training program.
However, even though Jennifer and Andy's efforts can now help the public at large, Jennifer Houser said she still gets distraught when she continues to see medically dependent inmates die in jail.
"It seems to me like each year that goes by it gets harder and harder to hear about other inmates dying in jail," she said. "We've got to continue to help change the system. It upsets me when I see what another inmate is facing."