A federal judge on Monday denied releasing any inmates from the Dallas County jail after a week’s worth of testimony painted a grim portrait of the conditions and how inconsistent information and practices created a culture of fear.

Lawyers for the nine plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit hope a more detailed opinion will provide a path forward for their case and new orders for the sheriff to follow.

U.S. District Judge Ada Brown “was very aware of the human suffering, and it seemed to move her quite a bit,” said Alison Grinter, a lawyer for the inmates. “The reason I think she has denied relief here is going to be procedural, not evidence-based. I don’t think she believes everything is fine inside the jail.”

In her court order, the judge wrote that an explanation for her decision would be forthcoming.

Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown, who has no relation to the judge, had no comment, a spokeswoman said on Monday.

The sheriff argued in court last week that new sanitation and isolation policies in the jail were working, and that granting the inmates’ requests would harm public safety.

“Plaintiffs’ requested relief would not just hinder, but would defeat, the good work already underway,” Brown’s filing said.

As of Monday, 4,871 people were incarcerated in the Dallas County jail, a sharp decline from nearly 6,000 on March 18 as the virus began to emerge in North Texas. According to a county spokeswoman, 153 inmates so far have tested positive — second only to Harris County, which on Sunday reported more than 160 positive cases in its Houston-area jail.

In their lawsuit, the Dallas inmates said they are unable to physically distance themselves from others and have little access to soap or face masks. Most of them were being held on drug-related charges and have underlying health issues.

COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, is more lethal to individuals who have pre-existing conditions such as asthma or diabetes.

As part of the lawsuit, the inmates asked for those who are medically vulnerable to be released.

The April 9 lawsuit is one of several making its way through federal and state courts challenging the current jail system in Texas.

By Enoc Rodriguez AKA Enocomm.corp

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