DOJ Report: Preview
Well it’s finally here. The United States Department of Justice has sent District Attorney Bill Hill and other elected officials a scathing rebuke over the way Dallas County has treated inmates.
In a letter dated December 8, 2006, Assistant United States Attorney General Wan Kim told Dallas that the jail is “grossly inadequate.” Anyone with a brain who lives in Dallas knows this to be true. But the report goes on for 46 pages, detailing just how bad the conditions and treatment have been. Recall that on November 28, 2005 the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice notified Dallas County that DOJ would be investigating the conditions at the jail. You would have thought that would have gotten the attention of those Dallas officials. The DOJ investigators then parachuted into the jail on two separate occassions- first from February 20-24, 2006, and from March 20-23, 2006. What the federal investigators found was absolutely horrifying.
Among the findings of the report, several inmates died directly from the negligence of the staff, and the jail was absolutely filthy. Here’s a quote directly from the report: “Having completed the fact-finding portion of our investigation in the Jail, we conclude that certain conditions at DCJ (Dallas County Jail) violate the constitutional rights of inmates confined there. As detailed below, we find that DCJ fails to provide inmates with: (1) adequate medical care; (2) adequate mental health care; and (3) safe and sanitary environmental conditions.” Adding insult to injury, the Report points out that “in late 2004, the Dallas County Commissioners commissioned a study of medical and mental health care, the results of which became public in February 2005, and are consistent with the findings contained herein.”
In other words, Dallas County, you can’t say that you didn’t know that you had a huge problem on your hands.
Now for the Report’s conclusion. While it is couched in diplomatic language, the United States Department of Justice tells Dallas County that if it doesn’t fix the problems immediately, the Department of Justice will file a lawsuit against Dallas County making them fix the problems. “We are obligated to advise you that, in the entirely unexpected event that we are unable to reach a resolution regarding our concerns, the Attorney General may initiate a lawsuit pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act to correct deficiencies of the kind identified in this letter 49 days after appropriate officials have been notified of them.”
Note to the County: The DOJ cannon trained on your position is loaded.
I hope to post the entire Report within the next few days. I suspect that you’ll be reading more about this investigation very soon.