this is the text from a post I made last week detailing a stay I had in Los Angeles County Jail.
I can most certainly attest to these conditions firsthand. If anything, this report is not touching upon how severe and pervasive this violence is or how damaging this custodial misconduct can be psychologically. My stay there in June of 2010 was the most horrifying and demeaning experience of my life, and what was done to me was not even close to as bad as what I saw others endure on a near daily basis.
When I first arrived to be booked it was because the Santa Clarita substation would not give me my psych meds, so they transported me to County which was not a standard procedure for them. The deputy who transported me told the booking deputies that I was a troublemaker because he had to make the fifteen or so mile drive which screwed up his day after advising them my behavior could be erratic if I didn't take my medication. The booking deputies called me a crazy faggot and other derogatory terms trying to provoke me into behavior that would give them an excuse to rough me up. I didn't get exited but when I responded that they were uneducated jack-booted thugs during a pat-search the officer searching me sharply punched me in the groin, threw me against the wall, and punched me in the kidneys. They said I had better learn respect or I would never make it in their world.
Then when I got to the medical floor about eight hours later as part of the classification process, I told the nurse performing the intake about my psychological disorders that had been diagnosed and the medications I was prescribed. The doctor that I spoke with after that said I was lying and they would not give me any medications even though I was booked with prescriptions in my property. I did not know that many people fake illnesses because a medical unit is "easy time" compared to general population. I got angry and said that I would be a danger to myself or others if not medicated, and then a deputy came in and told me to shut up or I would be sorry. I said that I needed my meds and would be violent if I had to in order to prove it.
Then I got roughed up again, thrown on the ground hard with a few incidental strikes thrown in for good measure. I got put in the SHU (Special Housing Unit) on suicide watch where I only had a smock to wear and a thin blanket, but there was no mattress so I was sleeping on bare steel and it was incredibly cold - probably around fifty degrees. The water did not work at all, and when I used the intercom to say I had no drinking water, I was ignored.
After about two days of only having the half-pint of milk with my meals to drink and being off my meds for about four days, I was brought down from my cell to speak with some kind of counselor or administrative official. She was about the most incompetent person I ever spoke with, and told me that a search for my medical records found nothing that indicated I required treatment or medication. I got very angry, and asked why if they thought I didn't need medication that I had several prescriptions when I was arrested that were in my property. She said that was irrelevant and there was no way I was going to get medication and told me to stop lying and wasting her time. I freaked out and screamed "I need my fucking meds bitch!" and kicked the edge of her desk which made some noise but didn't move it.
Two deputies ran in and kicked the chair out from under me, and I got the beatdown of a lifetime. They were kicking and punching me without me resisting at all for several minutes while I begged them to stop. They stripped the smock off me and dragged me naked up the flight of stairs to the tier of cells I was on that were grated for traction by the handcuffs at such an angle and force that not only did I get very cut up, but my wrists were bleeding. Then once in my cell they beat me some more, careful to make the blows across a large area to minimize bruising. They took my blanket when they left and said I would be sorry for messing with them, and even more sorry if I went to medical or said anything.
So I stood naked and freezing to the point of constant shaking and teeth chattering for the next two or three days with the running water not working in the cell. Only now I was not given meals, and every time the "Trusties" (other inmates who get special privileges for working) came by with the meals they would mock and taunt me by pretending they would give me food, making me beg, or telling me to do something sexually explicit. At first I was angry but as hunger and thirst wore me down, I began begging and sobbing, pleading for food and drink or even a blanket. Every time a deputy walked by no matter how hard I begged for even just a blanket or clothing - the only response was a disgusted or dispassionate stare or a twisted grin of amusement.
When I finally was let out, I was asked if I had enough yet and told if I behaved I could get breakfast. I got dressed and while I exited my cell saw magnetic signs affixed to the door that said "Combative", "Special Diet", and a piece of paper that was an incident report and drawn in large Sharpie print "Assaulted MHS Staff". I wolfed down the boiled egg, half cup of cereal, tiny orange, and half-pint of milk so quickly that the guy next to me said "Damn these cops ain't been feeding you man, you must have fucked up real bad." and gave me half of his orange. At the time it was the greatest kindness I had ever experienced and I cried thanking him. He said I must not have ever done time, and told me to keep my head down and eyes shut - and never to even talk to the jailers let alone file a complaint.
I was transported to court and had a hearing, where the public defender didn't ask me anything about the incident and told me to take the deal offered and to sign the paper she had already filled out without explaining any of my legal options. I complained that her behavior was inadequate assistance of counsel, and she said if I didn't sign the paper she would tell the jailers that I was threatening her with the pen. I handed it back to her telling her I wasn't afraid of the guards and that she should remember her oath of ethics.
She told the jailers something that made them put me in a holding cell and not see the judge. I was transported back to County where I was housed in a medical unit. They must have finally found my records, as I was given one of the several prescriptions I was supposed to be on, but at a different dose. I followed the guy who gave me a bite of orange's advice, and experienced no more violence against my person. I did however witness many acts of violence from deputies against inmates and even more acts of inmate-on-inmate violence the deputies staged and arranged. I am more than willing to tell more about these incidents if anyone is interested, but suffice to say for now they were worse than I experienced.
I left in the beginning of July 2010 with a completely changed perspective on life, and a new appreciation for freedom. Even being homeless and starving somehow wasn't nearly as bad as it was previously. I'm not even mad about it anymore, and even though I basically endured torture I never would be a party to a lawsuit or hope my story is seen as an exaggeration for personal gain. No amount of money would make that experience worthwhile, or bring the individuals responsible to justice. Litigation engenders the very problems it is intended to prevent, because both parties have to go to such ridiculous extremes to limit or profit from liability that the truth was gone from the process before it started. Tragedies such as this wouldn't be daily and commonplace if litigation wasn't the largest factor driving the decisions of every entity of business or government, and limiting liability took the place of doing what's right so long ago the difference is entirely lost on our society.
I want to be part of the solution instead of allowing the problem to persist. Henry David Thoreau said nearly two hundred years ago "The lawyers truth is not truth, but truth of a convenient expediency." and what was true then is now more apparent than ever. Carl Jung said "What you resist persist." implying that trying to prevent something really makes it more likely to happen. Instead of massive lawsuits, we need people to work towards what is right by simply changing the behavior without the external motivator being money. This is just one of the many injustices I have suffered, and believe it or not - one of the less severe ones.
I hope this story fills you with shock and rage, but more importantly a desire to be the change you wish to see in the world. It is so easy to assign fault and blame, but much more productive to work towards positively improving the world with means at hand. It means more to do what you can than focus on what should be and effectively do nothing.