Not often that an inmate wins one, especially if he doesn’t understand the System and its complicated rules. But Javiad Akhtar filed, and filed again, missing a deadline and not submitting correctly. He was of course smashed out of courts. But the UC Davis Civil Rights Clinic rode in on their legal horses, and helped Mr. Akhtar appeal to the 9th Circuit. The Court agreed that his disabilities, his limited English skills, and his attempts to follow the System’s rules allowed him to be heard again. They ruled he had been “sufficiently detailed to put prison officials on notice of the Eight Amendment claim.” The prison should have accommodated his request, which was documented by doctors’ documentation. Why the California system pursued this case is a mystery. They were wrong. Naturally they have filed another motion to dismiss. Tax dollars–cha-ching!
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Arizona’s infamous jail-’em’ all law enforcement anti-hero, has lost a major case for false imprisonment. When two reporters investigated his vast privately held properties and questioned how he could afford them, the sheriff tried to get numerous officials to investigate and arrest the journalists. After several years, he found a willing conspirator, and they had the journalists rousted from bed in the middle of the night on bogus charges. Yesterday, those journalists were awarded $3.75 MILLION. They plan to share the ward with civil rights groups fighting the many other spurious arrests by this disgraceful officer of the law.
My facebook account and blog are filled these weeks with countless examples of jails and prisons ignoring dire medical emergencies, many of which result in deaths. When will the U.S. provide legitimate, comprehensive oversight of the penal institutions? It should have begun with the establishment of jails; it should happen now.
Snake oil. Prayer beads. Shaman smoke. Laying on hands…. Inmates in Arizona prisons are denied necessary medical treatment, insists a lawsuit filed by American Friends (Quakers) and the Arizona ACLU. Instead, inmates are told that medical problems are “all in their heads” and that they should just pray about it. Remember when the Puritans drowned women, accused of witchcraft, and insisted that God would save the women if they prayed about it? God didn’t step up to the bat on those, and apparently He’s missing in the Arizona prison medical centers too. Let’s hope the court can save these ill and desperate inmates; the prison system isn’t about to. CCA says it’s doing what is required under the law. Period.
Last year, the Texas Parole Board shredded the contents of 86,000 packets, believing their contents had been scanned and filed electronically. Not so. Then, to cover the errors, they hired extra helpers, put in overtime, and tried to cover the errors. That cost tax payers, but not nearly as much as it cost the inmates, some of whom will now wait 3-5 years before their case is reviewed again. Both the Texas Inmate Families Association and the guards’ union are calling for a re-do. They want the cases reviewed, and those who qualify released.
New Mexico Police are taking searches to the extreme; first, last month’s story of requiring a driver to have 4 anal probes at a hospital–because he clutched his buttocks in a routine traffic search. Doctors found nothing. Now, a story of the police using pepper spray on a woman’s vagina during a jail search. At what point do the citizens of New Mexico scream, “Enough!”? It’s time.
We all know the prison industry rules. But what many do not know is how directly the Prison Industrial Complex takes money directly from our lives. As many as 65% of private prison contracts require our counties to pay for each cell as if it is occupied and costing the company money–even when that cell is empty. These contracts should be challenged at every level and then, perhaps, made illegal. As long as the taxpayer is involved, the county is responsible to us and our shrinking pocketbooks. This nonsense must stop.