Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dallas jail gets surprise inspection

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards decided to conduct a surprise visit to the Dallas County Jail rather than wait for their regularly scheduled inspection in March, reports the Dallas News ("Jail gets surprise inspection," Jan. 14). Despite tons of county resources poured into the jail in recent months, the core problems remain the same: Chronic understaffing and intolerably poor inmate healthcare.

County commissioners approved millions of dollars worth of new jail guard positions during the past year. The jails will have to meet the state's minimum staffing requirement of one guard for every 48 inmates.

Mr. Munoz said he understands that the county is working to complete its south jail tower and other large projects but that he expects to see improvements in jail staffing and other things "we've asked them to improve."

County commissioners will be debriefed by the team on Friday morning; the meeting will be open to the public. The final inspection report could be released by the end of next week.

At last year's inspection, healthcare documentation was so poor inspectors couldn't determine whether the jail was in compliance with state regulations. Since that time the US Justice Department has filed suit over poor healthcare at the jail. Reported the News:

Inspectors also noted in last year's report a lack of "sufficient documentation" to ensure that sick inmates were receiving prompt care. And they reported crowded cells and day rooms in the north and west towers.

Jail administrators expect TCJS to cite staffing, again, as one of the jail's major shortcomings.

So here's my question: How does Dallas expect to open new jail wings to eliminate overcrowding when they've experienced a chronic guard shortage that makes them unable to staff the jails they've got? That's essentially the problem we're facing at state prisons, too, and at some point it's absurd to keep pretending that guard understaffing will take care of itself.

In terms of new jail and prison construction, the old adage, "If you build it, they will come" is certainly true of inmates, but empirically speaking, it doesn't necessarily apply to prison and jail guards any longer, at least at current wage levels.

4 comments:

Just Wonderin' said...

Any chance the "surprise" jail inspection is a political hit on Lupe Valdez by the Perry people before the primary?

I wouldn't put it past them.

Anonymous said...

Politics or not, the jail should be properly staffed to protect the inmates and healthcare matching what is available to the public should be provided. The jail condititions should be exposed.

Politicians can die from "exposure".

IF this is a ploy by Perry, it could backfire big time.

Anonymous said...

The US Supreme Court denied my petition for writ of cert and now my case is before Judge Martin Hoffman with the 68th District Court of Dallas County Texas, Cause #08-00304, Daniel Montes, Jr. vs. Jeffrey P. Ransom, Demarquis F. Black, Willie Faye Washington and David Bonner. The federal causes of action were dismissed, but the state law claims remain. Various claims such as assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, pain and suffering, denial of medical care, failure to train, failure to supervise, medical damages, etc. The defendants put me in overtight handcuffs over 3 hours, denied me medical care, and emergency room costs over $1400 when I was finally released. Ransom and Black are Dallas officers and Washington and Bonner are Dallas County jailers. Call the sheriff, city police chief, the defendants directly, for their side of the story. Of course they will deny everything. I have color photos, videotape, and doctors affidavits. I want my jury trial. I invite you to attend once set. If this can happen to me it can happen to you. We the citizens must hold these officers accountable for their unlawful actions. If you have any questions to call me anytime. Thank you, Daniel Montes, Jr., plaintiff, 214-708-4007.

Anonymous said...

awww Daniel. Your handcuffs were too tight? Were you lawfully arrested? Unless you have suffered permanent loss of some appendage, I do not think your chances are good. People are really starting to get tired of whining criminals. I say that knowing that you may have only been charged with a misdemeanor.