This week, the U.S. Justice Department concluded a near epic report on the county's jail, highlighting a grim pattern of negligent health care and unprofessional conduct that unnecessarily costs people their lives. Citing the jail for a long list of failures, from not treating communicable diseases to having large concentrations of drain flies and fly larvae swarming in bathrooms, the Justice Department's findings were far worse than anyone expected. Coming a little more than a year after the feds first announced their investigation of the jail, the report, first obtained by the Dallas Observer, documented at least 11 inmates whose deaths could have been prevented had both the Dallas County Sheriff's Department and the jail's medical provider followed basic standards of jail health and operation.
Sent to all five county commissioners, along with Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who runs the jail, the report informed them that their facility regularly violates the rights of inmates confined there, particularly those who are ailing. "The DCJ [Dallas County jail] fails to provide inmates with adequate medical care that complies with constitutional requirements," the report notes, finding serious deficiencies in screening, chronic care, acute care, follow-up care, staffing and training, among other areas.
At the Observer's press time, county officials, who have continually failed to staff the jail according to state standards, were still digesting the findings, but they don't exactly have the luxury to review them at their leisure. After having run the jail on the cheap for years, the county has now only seven weeks to address the recommendations of the report. If it doesn't, the "attorney general may initiate a lawsuit...to correct deficiencies of the kind identified in this letter."
It can't come soon enough. Here are some examples why.