Thursday, August 09, 2007

A first-hand account of unhealthy conditions at the Dallas County jail

Even with the threat of federal intervention looming over their heads, to judge by this account conditions at the Dallas County jail still don't pass muster. A sharply worded letter to the editor in the Dallas Observer describes firsthand overcrowded conditions, abusive behavior and failure to provide medical treatment in the Dallas County Jail:

Worse? Heck yeah: In response to Buzz (by Patrick Williams, July 19), and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez "making liars out of everyone who ever said things couldn't get worse at the jail," well, they ARE worse.

As a first-time offender in my 45 years here in Dallas County, I walked into the Lew Sterrett Justice Center to clear up a 3-year-old misdemeanor ticket. I was handcuffed and booked into their system. Then I was placed in a holding tank with 22 other males, although the door said "MAX 8 PERSONS," and was told I would be out shortly after processing my misdemeanor violation. With no room to even walk around, I just stood and sat there in a 10-by-20-foot tank.

While in there, I found a fellow inmate in a bad medical condition, foaming at the mouth and shaking. Trying to alert jail staff, we banged on all the cell doors for 15 minutes with NO reply by anyone there. They were swamped with bookings. Finally, after 20 minutes, the inmate was seen by a sheriff's deputy who said they would be back. By this time the man was unresponsive and not breathing. Help arrived 38 minutes later after many a "fuck you" by jail staff. (By the way, that expletive is used 24 hours a day by the paid jail staff.)

I voluntarily entered their system on a misdemeanor charge with no previous anything on my record in Dallas County. The jail was very overcrowded; I got one green bologna sandwich every 18 hours with tap water and only a cold tile floor to sleep on, no blankets, no nothing. I was finally processed out three days later. All on a first-time misdemeanor charge. Overcrowded, heck yes! What a mess the Dallas County jail system is today.

Russ Vandeveerdonk


1 comment:

JT Barrie said...

Expect a lot of F bombs when you give preference to ex military. The attitudes about closing ranks and the Code of Silence transfers well from military to police. And, of course, there's always the opportunities for double dipping. The first time I heard about "lifers" was in the military and it depicted the poisonous attitudes that afflict those who serve to retirement. Those who double dip just transfer their skills and attitudes towards law enforcement work.