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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Removes Dallas Jail From Oversight

DALLAS (CN) - A federal judge has ended court supervision over conditions at the Dallas County Jail, 4 years after the settlement began.

Federal prosecutors in 2007 required Dallas County to take specific remedial measures at the jail, for medical care, mental health care, sanitation and environmental health, to alleviate unconstitutional conditions.

Dallas County Jail is the seventh largest jail in the United States, with an average daily census of more than 6,300 inmates and more than 100,000 people booked in per year.

About 50 percent of the inmates at intake have acute or chronic medical or mental health conditions. About 22 percent have mental health problems, according to a Justice Department statement.

Because of the 4-year-old settlement, more than 6,000 inmates are being seen each month in 12 jail clinics, receiving services that include dialysis, respiratory care, dentistry, and HIV and infectious disease management. More than 3,200 inmates receive daily medication, and the number of deaths at the jail has decreased by 45 percent. Staffing levels in all medical disciplines have nearly doubled.

"We commend Sheriff Valdez, Dallas County, Parkland Hospital and jail staff for their willingness to work aggressively to address the problems found," the assistant attorney general for civil rights said in the statement.

"We also want to make sure that jurisdictions understand that when they act in good faith and comply with a settlement, the United States will join in seeking the end of court oversight."

In its 2006 findings, the Justice Department found that health assessments were rarely completed. "Inmates with communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases were not appropriately screened, treated, or isolated."

The settlement was signed by U.S. District Judge David Godbey.

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