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