Until about two months ago, I'd never set foot in a Dallas jail, or in any other for that matter. Unless you count the time I bailed a friend out of jail in Manila.
The depressing thing is that after having compared the two, I've come to the conclusion that the Manila jail was run better in 1993 than the Dallas County Jail system is in 2007.
My fiance James is currently being held in the Suzanne Kays Jail, the minimum security unit of Dallas County Jail (DCJ). He turned himself in about two months ago after learning that an ex-employer had accused him of theft, and that a grand jury had indicted him. (More about grand juries later.)
Although he informed the jail staff of his diabetes and gastric bypass surgery when he was booked in, he wasn't given any diabetes medication or edible food for five days. During a space of two weeks, he lost just over 14 pounds. Over the next few weeks, medicine and sugar-free food was provided either sporadically or not at all. It took almost two months for the jail folks to finally get it together enough to provide him with daily medication and edible meals most days.
Before I go any further, please keep in mind that James has had no trial or preliminary hearing, so he hasn't been convicted of anything. His only bail hearing was nonsense, as the indictment contained a "typo" (the DA's words, not mine) that made the charge a first-degree felony. So bailing him was not an option. Like almost everyone else in DJC, he'll probably be kept in jail until his charges or dismissed, or his health fails to the point where the jail staff panic and transfer him to Parkland.
Moreover, most people who are admitted to DJC aren't sentenced to jail time. They're found innocent, charges are dropped, or the DA decides the whole mess isn't worth pursuing.