Most Terrifying Jail You Don’t Want To Be A Prisoner In

Most Terrifying Jail You Don’t Want To Be A Prisoner In

It’s Saturday night at Dallas County Jail,
what some of the staff call “rush hour”. It’s a total madhouse with maybe 300 people
checking in that night. People are dragged in shouting and screaming;
some have bags placed over their heads after spitting at guards. Some are strapped into a chair because they
are out of their minds on some substance. If you are part of that crowd you’d first
be booked in, and that means having your fingerprints taken and having to answer a few questions. “Do you feel hopeless,” you are asked,
which seems like a strange thing to ask. But how you answer these questions will depend
on where you are sent. As you’ll see in this show, some parts of
this jail are much worse than others. Welcome to one of America’s most feared
jails. So, you’ve been booked in and searched from
head to toe. You’ve got your set of clothes, a grayish
striped uniform that you could be wearing for some time. Where you’ll be sent depends on what you
did and how you answered those questions when you were being processed. On any given night people might arrive after
being arrested for murder, assault, theft, disorderly conduct, and a long list of other
crimes. But the main reason people end up at Dallas
County Jail is drugs. The entire complex is massive, with three
main towers serving as the places where people will be incarcerated. While a lot of people just call the place
the county jail, these three towers together go by the name of The Lew Sterrett Justice
Center complex. If you looked out of your mind when you were
brought in or have a history of mental illness you will likely end-up in the West Tower,
which is the Mental Health facility. That place holds around 1,500 inmates. If you are believed to be extremely dangerous
then you might go straight to the Maximum Security part of the jail which is called
the North Tower. And if there’s nothing that special about
you, you could end up in general population, which is the South Tower. The North Tower holds about 3,300 people and
the South Tower holds about 2,300 people. In 2019, police said they had about 6,100
gang members on file in Dallas, but that’s only the people they knew about. The actual number of people in gangs is much
higher of course. What this means is that at any time there
are a number of gang members in this jail, and that means rivalries. For this reason, members of the same gang
might find themselves sharing the same cell. It’s in the maximum security tower where’ll
you find a lot of these gangs. A day in one of these cells can often be hectic,
and the cells are often searched, something called a shakedown. The special unit of guards that do this dress
in armor that makes them look like Robocops. They rush into the cell and demand everyone
gets down on the ground. Guards are armed with non-lethal weapons such
as pepper-ball guns, which will be used if any prisoner doesn’t follow commands. They search the cell and leave it in a total
mess. They take no chances, and even sometimes call
this part of the jail, “The Jungle.” If men do get out of hand they might find
themselves in one of the isolation cells. Just walking down the corridor where these
cells are located is not a pleasant experience. Men bang wildly on the doors, scream obscenities,
shout about human rights abuse and how they are losing their minds in there. They remain in the cells with no books, no
newspapers, alone with a stone bed, a toilet and four walls. They might get a few days in there or a long
stretch, depending on the seriousness of what they’ve been accused of. For one hour three times a week they can leave
that cell, and that’s it. Sometimes the inmates just lose their minds
and paint the walls with their own natural waste. After that they might have their cell burst
into by armed guards and painfully get tied up. If they don’t quit acting out this might
lead to a stint fastened in a chair with a bag over their head, something that looks
quite medieval. Maybe you get a job as a trustee because you’re
a well-behaved kind of guy, but as any Dallas County Jail trustee will tell you, one of
the downsides about this job is cleaning those cells that have been painted with human excrement. Those trustees also have to always be on the
look-out for inmates trying to squirt them with that other liquid form of human waste. The jail is supposed to have gotten better
over the years. A decade ago a former guard wrote a book called
“Covered Up” about her experience working there. She said she witnessed things you would not
believe. She described one instance when a bunch of
guards beat a mentally-ill inmate housed in the West Tower for no reason at all. They beat him badly, too, while all the time
the man screamed in pain. In that book she states every possible violation
of human rights went down in those towers, including murder. The Sheriff’s Department was of course not
too happy about the publication of this book, even though the former guard didn’t use
any real names. The lawyer for that department said at the
time she should have reported any incidents when guards broke the rules, but it was too
late once she had left the job. The South Tower is somewhat different, and
that’s because it contains something called direct supervision units. This could mean a great big space with around
60 inmates, something called a pod. In this part of the prison around 60 percent
of the guards are women, and sometimes there might be just one guard for all those 60 men. These pods look quite clean and modern. Days might pass in the pod without any fights,
but they can break out and they break out fast. There’s not much one single female guard
can do when scores of large men are fighting, but she can press a panic button and soon
a response team will be on the scene. Tempers sometimes times just bubble up, and
the worst days for some men is after they have finally been sentenced for their crime. Staring down at 15 years in prison can get
to a person. Most of the people there don’t have money
for expensive lawyers and often their public defender will tell them to take a plea bargain. Fight the case and lose and get 30 years or
take a plea bargain and get 12. Plea bargains in the USA are somewhat controversial. The media reports that 90 to 95 percent of
felony convictions are the result of plea bargains in the U.S. Does that mean 95 percent of people charged
with a felony are guilty? Not at all, but some people in jail don’t
think they’ll win their case even if they’re innocent. The U.S. National Registry of Exonerations
reported that around 15 percent of people imprisoned but then exonerated because they
were found to be innocent had actually pleaded guilty. That goes up to 66 percent for people wrongly
convicted of drug crimes and 49 percent for the crime of manslaughter. Sometimes people are looking at a mandatory
minimum and while innocent, their public defender will just tell them that even though the evidence
against them isn’t all that strong, if you lose, you are truly finished. Another reason to accept a plea bargain is
just to get out of jail faster since just about any convicted felon will tell you, jail
is worse than prison. Take the plea and you could be out of court
in a couple of minutes with the knowledge that you are leaving jail to do hard time
in a prison. Fight the case and you might spend months
or years in jail fighting your case and then get a really bad result. That’s why it’s sometimes called “The
Devil’s Bargain.” There is no doubt that this can be very rough
justice for some people. We’re not trying to say jail is full of
angels and innocents, but you can only imagine how a person must feel when told to accept
a plea bargain and they are innocent or at least not guilty of everything they have been
charged with. This is another reason why a quiet pod might
just go off one day, when one prisoner has had a bad day in court or a depressing chat
with a public defender. But then take into account that after all
this you suffer at the hands of some rather unpleasant guards or inmates. It’s what’s called a vicious cycle of
events and a reason why jails can be awful places. We should also say something else that seems
ethically wrong goes down in jail. We can give you one example of this, but it
happens all the time. A person is arrested for a misdemeanor, maybe
something like public intoxication and being an annoyance. We imagine some of you have been guilty of
this at least once in your life. They end up in court very soon after and are
told they don’t have to go to jail if they pay the $500 bail money. But they don’t have that kind of cash because
they are poor. Well, then it’s back to jail for them. This recently happened in Dallas and the American
Civil Liberties Union wrote about it, saying it was actually illegal. This is what they wrote about this particular
case: “The jail is transparent about the fact
that it values money over civil rights. It maintains an ATM for people to get cash
to post their bail. Shannon didn’t have the money, and because
she is transgender, the county put her in solitary confinement. For days she was isolated in a cramped cell
24 hours a day and denied contact with other people.” In Dallas County, 70 percent of people in
jail are awaiting trial. They are presumed innocent until proven guilty,
and yet are sometimes forced to endure extreme conditions. There are bail agents who can help with the
fee and you might pay installments, but they charge for that. The person might fall behind on payments and
they get trapped in a cycle of debt. People are fighting back, and in 2018, citizens
who’d been jailed in Dallas sued officials. They said they had been unfairly jailed because
they were poor, and that was unconstitutional. It should be pointed out that a short stint
in jail can lead to the loss of a job and maybe even a house. It can create havoc if that person has a family. The ACLU also said in the same story that
because the conditions inside the jail are so bad, a lot of people just plead guilty
to get out of there. If you’re just 17 in the state of Texas
you will be tried as an adult, so this means you can end up at Dallas County Jail when
pretty young. The teens are segregated from the older prisoners
and put in cells in the West Tower. They are separated because of the real threat
of varying types of abuses. The problem is, they are really strictly segregated
and so they remain mostly in their cell or in the tank, which contains a group of cells. Because there’s nothing to do, when these
kids go out in the open space of the tank they tend to argue and fight. If they get caught doing that they might go
to administrative custody, where it’s just them alone in a cell with a bible and a bed. That might last for days, and there is evidence
that solitary confinement for kids can cause a lot of mental damage, more so than in adults. Dallas County Jail does seem to have improved
over the years, and after years of failing inspections it turned a corner and started
passing them. Bad things still happen. In 2017, one man beat his cellmate to death
just because he wasn’t happy about the other man’s use of the shared toilet. The victim had only committed his first crime
in his 50s, but was said to be mentally unwell. His cellmate on the other hand had a very
long history of violence. In this case the authorities were criticized
for putting the two men together. If you enjoyed this episode then we’ve got
two more we know you’re going to love. Click on either the video on the left or right
for another great episode of The Infographics Show right now!

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About the Author: Sam Caldwell


  1. I'm sure it's really unpleasant walking down the corridor of the isolation cells, with men banging on the doors and screaming obscenities. Talking about violating their basic human rights. Those awful, scary, violent criminals. Why can't they be more civil while being treated like animals?

  2. Here in Ontario ive been roped into 5 pleas because they wont give bail without certain promises, and u only get a full bail hearing after 30 days, and if ur not able to get bail, ur looking at 1 to 2 YEARS of incarceration until a trial, so most people, even innocent get railroaded into pleas because of the late trials

  3. I cant understand why prisoners would end a man for assaulting a child in an inappropriate way but not be cool with hanging out with other races.

  4. OK, NOW the song "Trudy" by the Charlie Daniels Band makes A LOT MORE sense on how physically strong the narrator was when he resisted arrest!

    "It took half the cops in Dallas County to put one […] in jail!"

  5. Funny that this jail is so feared Because I was locked up in a prison in Texas and a lot of guys that I was cool with came from Dallas county jail while I came from Tarrant county which isn’t too far from each other

  6. "Do you feel hopeless?"



  7. You said 95% of people convicted of a felony are done so by a plea bargain. Thats not saying 95% are guilty. The percentage of people charged who are convicted are obviously much lower

  8. 10/07/2019, infographics show: prison is totally worse than jail
    01/03/2020, infographics show: people plead guilty just to get out of jail

  9. I need to ask if you make a tunnel though the earth and someone was mining and finds the tunnel and sees you falling does he see you fall upside down or does something else happen

  10. Some comments on here saying well it's simple just stay out of jails/prisons but it's not so easy because you could be arrested for a crime you haven't committed and I myself done 4 weeks on remand after I was set up for an arson and my name was given to police witch made it difficult to get bail so two years after I had everything dropped against me because its hard to eat a kebab 50 miles away from where I lived and to the house being petrol bombed was and only for I was on my travels I really had no way proving myself

  11. This is such garbage as a person who goes to jails frequently for work. I can tell you an inmate does not get beaten for no reason

  12. 2:13 "And the cells are often searched, something called a "shakedown" "

    Meanwhile, in my head …

    🎶 It's a shaaaaakedoooowwnn!
    (And it's a nervous shakedown)
    A nervous shaaaake doooowwnnn!
    (Another nervous shakedown) 🎶

  13. So basically the US justice system is't any better than any Latin American one that puts you in jail before they start collecting evidence

  14. 5:24 – When a person pleads guilty but denies doing it and maintains innocence, it's called an Alford plea. It's not admitting guilt, but rather, admitting that while they are innocent, they don't expect to win (e.g., because they believe the evidence seems convincing enough that they think the jury will convict them), so they are basically giving up hope. On top of the moral issues with this (on both sides), it also means they probably won't be eligible for a plea-bargain or parole or early-release. 😕

  15. A "prisoner" in jail? Its called an inmate 😑 Dont inform people on a subject when you cant even get the title straight

  16. America you seriously need to sort out you're unfair justice system as it's a complete travesty all that plead bargaining and if you're poor you don't get bail so you're kept in prison until you're sentenced is just wrong you need to have a fair and just system in place like we do in the UK.. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🇬🇧

  17. Infographics did it correctly in, among other things, telling us how US prisons were/are like. Sounds like an actual national problem not so much seen in other comparable western countries.

  18. this is bad
    then you never seen what happened to people who who spoke out against the ccp and disappeared in china

  19. Decriminalization of all drugs must be done. 80% of all people in prison are there for drugs, using drugs, selling drugs, buying drugs, moving drugs, doing things to get money for drugs, doing thing while on drugs or in withdrawal from drugs etc… addicts deserve treatment not prison.

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