Head of Dallas County Juvenile Justice Center refutes claims of 'inhumane' conditions

After complaints about inhumane conditions inside the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Center, the executive director is firing back.

The director cited audits by the state as proof the department is following the law in its treatment of young people in custody.

Executive Director Darryl Beatty held a press conference Wednesday to refute the claims of a whistleblower report of harsh conditions and defend the detention center.

However, he refused to take any questions from the media and instead read a prepared statement. His attorney said that was his advice. 

"The allegations being leveled that youth are being subjected to inhumane treatment are categorically false," Beatty said. "During my tenure as chief probation officer, there have been no findings of inhumane treatment. None."

"Inhumane" is how a coalition of Black clergy described the conditions during a news conference last Sunday with testimonials of poor conditions from two former detainees who spent time there several years ago.

Among the complaints are that youth are confined to cells for up to 23 hours.

Beatty admitted the Texas Juvenile Justice Department did cite the department for violations a year ago.

"As a result, in July 2023, TJJD cited the juvenile department for compliance issues, primarily centered around what appeared to be the utilization of disciplinary seclusion," he said. "The department did not have a written policy in place regarding disciplinary seclusion."


Legal battle ensues between Dallas County commissioner, juvenile dept. director over legal records

The standoff began after a report that found the Dallas County Juvenile Department lags behind national standards, including keeping kids locked up longer than other juvenile detention centers. Now, a court will decide whether the commissioner gets the documents he wants.

Beatty says the department went on to receive a clean audit in September and again in April. 

"I can assure you, as of today, youth are receiving out-of-cell structured and unstructured activities in compliance with state law," he said. 

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the department has refused to release jailer observation reports so the county can confirm incarcerated youth are receiving adequate time out of their cells. 

"I won't be confident until someone other than the people running this department look at the data and confirm that what they’re saying is true," he said. "What we are asking for is evidence that that is true, right? Because all the evidence we are getting are from parents and children who say their civil rights have been violated."

2017 Audit: Boys doing whatever they wanted at Dallas County juvenile facility

Beatty admitted a staffing shortage of jailers remains a real challenge. Right now, his department has a 20% vacancy rate for jailers.

"Here is a snapshot of our current detention population. We have 22 youth who are accused of committing murder with four of them brought to detention within the last 48 hours," he explained. "With youth charged with such serious and violent offenses, the secure supervision provided by the detention facility is a public imperative.

Beatty's attorney said they will hold another news conference to answer reporter's questions when the lawsuit with Dallas County is resolved. 

It is unclear how long from now that might be.