The Dallas County Commissioners Court convened a special meeting on Monday to discuss the length of time juveniles spend in solitary confinement in county facilities.
County Judge Clay Jenkins scheduled the meeting following a request from Commissioner Andrew Sommerman, who had written a report on extended tenure for juveniles in solitary confinement.
Sommerman delivered a presentation of his findings on the juvenile court system during the Court’s last meeting on May 2, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
The commissioners held the meeting to consider requesting observation sheets from the Dallas County Juvenile Department on every child incarcerated between January 1 and April 4 of 2023. The documents include data on juvenile detainees’ stays in solitary confinement. However, potentially identifying information would be redacted.
Court officials believe that the acquisition of such data is necessary.
“Further, the Dallas County Commissioners Court finds that this information is needed to carry out its administrative functions to adequately fund and staff the Dallas County Juvenile Department and to assess County liability,” said officials in an order to the department.
As the meeting began, a member of the public named Jeremy Alaman appeared before the Court and recounted his daughter’s time in one of these detention centers. Alaman’s daughter had allegedly been held in solitary confinement for over 22 hours. Her alleged experience bore similarities to reports that Sommerman claimed to have received.
Sommerman asked Alaman whether these extended stays had impacted his daughter’s mental health, to which Alaman responded that it had.
The Court moved to pass its order in a 4-1 vote.
Commissioner John Wiley Price was the lone commissioner to vote against the measure.
Like in the previous meeting, Price maintained that the Court had no legal jurisdiction to issue such an order.
“The position is this Court has no authority under Section 58-005: Confidentiality of facility records,” said Price. “And we have no authority whatsoever.”