Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jail beatings are more common than most think

Two cops beat up a guy in jail for not paying a traffic ticket. They were provoked, he said something rude to him.
Two Jefferson County sheriff's deputies have been suspended without pay over the beating of an inmate that was caught on videotape.
Authorities said the video showed Cole punching the man in the face multiple times after a verbal confrontation.

A few years ago I had a period of pretty severe depression and was homeless and living in my car in Austin, Texas. I got a lot of tickets during that period, and didn't pay them. So I'd go to jail on a traffic warrant. It's a cycle that's hard to get out of when you're broke, not only do you have tickets to pay, they impound your car when they arrest you on the warrant, so you have two and impound fees to pay before you pay the most recent ticket.

But, anyway, the jail was very overcrowded, often with 5 men in a two bed cell. But they had a suicide watch cell that was visible to the guards with about 6 beds and typically only 2-3 inmates. So after the first arrest on a traffic warrant (it happened to me 5-6 times in a period of a few months) I asked to see the jail nurse and I'd tell her I was depressed and concerned that I might become suicidal (not that I was suicidal, that might have gotten me locked up in a mental hospital). So I'd get assigned to the suicide watch cell and get to sleep in a bed rather than on the floor next to the toilet.

One day when I was being booked the jailer ignored me when I asked to see a nurse. I refused to tell him anything about my medical history, insisting on seeing the nurse, and I think he got mad about that. He put me in a holding cell with about 20 inmates and benches for about 15. I was standing near the door.

He came up to the door to add another recent arrestee and told me to move back. "When can I see a nurse?", I asked. "Move back, asshole", he responded. I moved back, and said over my shoulder, "Fuck you".

He'd opened the door, he yelled for more guards, left the handcuffed new inmate in the hall, and knocked me down. About 5-6 guards came in and held me down while he grabbed my head by my hair and hit my face against the concrete floor a couple of times. Even though I was nuts I knew enough to know that resistance was pretty much suicidal.

Later I did see a nurse, told her where the scrapes on my face came from. Of course nothing was done about it. It very seldom is, such assaults on inmates for verbal abuse are pretty frequent in most jails.

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