Dozens of newly hired Dallas County jail guards are going straight to work, supervising inmates for months before undergoing any formal training or taking the state's licensing exam.That job is hard enough if you're WELL-trained. Sending untrained 18-year olds into a big city jail like Dallas' is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. If nothing else, it nearly guarantees high turnover. After all, they can get a $10,000 signing bonus and actual training going to work for the Dallas PD.
Though officials say there have been no incidents attributed to the untrained guards, the practice of immediately putting them in contact with inmates is considered by some experts to be potentially dangerous -- and costly.
The practice is legal: Temporary jailer licenses from the state allow recruits as young as 18 to work inside jails while they await a spot in a training academy. A sheriff's department has one year to get them trained and certified as jailers. The new hires are supposed to be under the constant supervision of training officers.
But with Dallas County hustling to fill a couple of hundred new positions to address a jail-staffing crisis, the quality and extent of that supervision are in question.
Most of the 215 new jail guard positions created since late last year have been filled. But there are only about 115 training officers to supervise them.
Some recruits are spending up to six months on the job before being admitted to the four-week academy, officials said, often coming into direct contact with inmates.
The new recruits haven't yet learned rules and regulations or important skills such as proper restraint and search techniques. Their placement also poses the question of liability for the county.
Granted, Sheriff Lupe Valdez is in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. But this sure casts a different light on Dallas legislators refusing to require better oversight of non-compliant jails.
The truth is nobody in the state can find enough qualified jail or prison guards, nobody wants to pay them enough, but everybody from counties to the state to the feds to private companies want to build new detention facilities in Texas. Something has to give.
- Dallas will hire guards with distant past drug convictions
- Lose 1,000 inmates in 3 months: Ask me how!
- Dallas overcrowding snapshot: Jail a waste of money for many low-level offenders
- Why build more prisons when we can't staff the ones we've got?
- Who would staff new Texas prisons and jails?
- Prison guards arrested at record pace
- TDCJ suicides, guard arrests on the rise
- Some prisons are only 62% staffed