Juvenile detainees kept indoors for months, AT&T layoffs in Dallas: Your Thursday morning roundup

Staff Photographer

Good morning. Here is a look at the top headlines as we start the day.

Weather: Patchy morning fog. Then partly cloudy and warmer by afternoon. High: 73 degrees. Wind: S 10 mph.

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Juvenile offenders sit in chairs during a group session, as seen during a tour of the Dr. Jerome McNeil Jr. Detention Center inside the Henry Wade Juvenile Justice Center, Dallas County’s largest juvenile detention center.
Cruel and unusual: Dallas County juvenile detainees were locked indoors for months

After a sex scandal broke at Dallas County’s Medlock juvenile detention in May, The Dallas Morning News reached out to guards and families of teens locked up there to investigate.

We found many issues, but one of the more troubling ones was a practice of not allowing the boys to go outdoors regularly — sometimes for months straight. One boy said he wasn’t taken outside in nearly 10 months.

Texas death row prisoners get one hour per week outdoors. The most dangerous prisoners at San Quentin State Prison get 10 hours per week outdoors. The United Nations says prisoners should have one hour outdoors per day.

But Terry Smith, the head of Dallas County juvenile detention won’t guarantee kids go outdoors “four to six times a month.” That’s in spite of her own policy that says the outdoor recreation areas should be “used daily.”

“You get kind of calloused,” said Danny Pirtle, a former top official under Smith. “Now that I’m on the outside, I think, ‘Wow, how can a kid not go outside for a year?’”

Previously: Most or all of the supervisors at one of Dallas County’s juvenile lockups failed to carry out their responsibilities, leading to the sex scandal that came to light there this year, said the head of the county’s juvenile services.

In Texas: The Gainesville State School for delinquent juveniles has been on the verge of crisis for more than a year, according to interviews and hundreds of pages of documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News. The youths — and staff who are supposed to protect them — are often abused and victimized.

AT&T’s headquarters in downtown Dallas.
AT&T plans to lay off nearly 300 at center in Dallas next year

Shortly after Valentine’s Day next year Dallas-based AT&T plans to begin "restructuring" early next year at a center in Dallas that will impact 300 workers.

The announcement came from the Texas Workforce Commission on Wednesday, the same day the telecom giant announced that, thanks to the passage of the GOP tax plan, it is giving the majority of its employees in the United States a $1,000 bonus.

About 190 of the affected workers are non-management employees at a credit and collections center at 4331 Communications Dr. in Dallas, while another 94 non-management employees work at a "premium care center" at that same location, according to a letter AT&T sent to the Texas Workforce Commission. The letter describes a "restructuring [that] will be permanent" and result in the workers being "separated from employment beginning on Feb. 17, 2018."

In an emailed statement to The Dallas Morning News, the company noted that the workers will be offered jobs elsewhere and gave more details: "We’re adding people in many areas where we’re seeing increased customer demand for products and services," said Marty Richter, an AT&T spokesman.

Demographics: Texas grew by more than 1,000 people per day this year — and half were babies.

Real estate: North Dallas’ biggest residential estate — the former Hicks property on Walnut Hill Lane — has sold for $36.2 million.

Kaytlynn Cargill
Teen charged in death of Bedford girl found in Arlington landfill will be tried as an adult

The 16-year-old accused in the June slaying of a Bedford teen whose body was found in an Arlington landfill will be tried as an adult, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The teen was arrested Sept. 1 and charged with murder in Kaytlynn Cargill’s death. A judge determined the teen was certified to stand trial as an adult after a nearly four-hour hearing.

A hearing will be scheduled to decide the next steps in the case. The teen will likely remain in juvenile jail until the hearing, Tarrant County district attorney’s spokeswoman Sam Jordan said.

Kaytlynn was reported missing June 19 from an apartment complex in the 1700 block of Oak Creek Lane. Her body was found two days later at the Republic Services landfill.

Courts: The murder trial for the fired Balch Springs officer who killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards has been delayed until June.

Police: A Fort Worth police officer who was demoted over a leaked video of a black family’s controversial arrest by a white officer last year will head west to become a police chief in Northern California.

(Andy Jacobsohn/Staff Photographer)
Photo of the morning

New SMU head coach Sonny Dykes walks with his new team before the DXL Frisco Bowl between the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and the Mustangs at Toyota Stadium in Frisco on Wednesday. SMU lost 51-10 in Dykes’ first game leading the team.

Around the site

Dallas County: Two more flu-related deaths were reported Wednesday in what could become one of Dallas County’s worst flu seasons.

Crime: A man suspected of robbing four banks in the last two days was apprehended Wednesday in Old East Dallas, police said.

Politics: Texas Democrats have dropped a lawsuit aimed at keeping scandalized GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold on the 2018 ballot.

Dallas Cowboys: This was the Cowboys’ biggest failure during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, writes staff writer David Moore.

Opinion: Instead of banning words, let’s learn to argue with words, writes Fr. Joshua J. Whitfield.

Finally,

Have you been naughty this month, procrastinating on your holiday menu planning? Or have you been nice, overextending yourself with baking and shopping? Either way, give yourself a break.

We’ve rounded up dining options for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so you can skip the oven shuffle and let someone else do the dishes. Keep in mind that Christmas Eve falls on Sunday this year, so brunch options abound.

Reservations are encouraged and sometimes required; check with the restaurant for availability and details.

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