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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Seattle's Response to the DOJ KCCF Investigation

The King County and the city of Seattle has responded to the DOJ investigation which accuses the King County Jail of violating the constitutionally protected rights of detainees. Let's analyze the response to the findings of civil rights abuses and see why it's so disturbing.

1. The King County Jail (aka. KCCF) is a corrections facility operated under jurisdiction of King County Washington which houses an average of over 1,200 prisoners at any given day, a majority of which are persons detained for alleged criminal offenses by the Seattle Police Department and awaiting trial for either felony or misdemeanor offenses.

2. The DOJ report insists that numerous abuses were discovered during it's investigation into the King County Jail, including failure to protect detainees from physical harm at the hands of guards, failure to protect prisoners from sexual abuse from guards, failure to protect detainees from self-harm, and failure to allow inmates access to medical care.

3. The city of Seattle and King County Washington, via the offices of County Executive and the DJAD, has officially responded that it agrees with all findings of abuse as detailed by the DOJ investigative findings report.

4. The DOJ report classifies the abuses discovered as severe and life-threatening, that such abuses are severe enough to cause organ failure or death of detainees, and as such they are violations of constitutionally protected civil rights.

5. Ron Sims, the King County Executive, and the KCCF (King County Jail) have officially responded by stating that while they agree that the abuses described are occurring and are as severe as the DOJ states, that these abuses are not civil rights abuses.

... Recap so far, King County, as represented by King County Executive Ron Sims who is responsible for Jail administration, agrees that life-threatening abuses occur at it's jail but argues that such abuses are not illegal.

6. If, as the King County Executive and DAJD head claim, abusing prisoners in ways that can cost them their lives is not an abuse of constitutionally protected civil rights, it also contends that it has the authority to commit such abuses.

7. Furthermore, if that assertion is correct, King County and the DJAD are suggesting that they have no real legally binding reason to ensure that such abuses do not continue.

8. If so, they conclude that they do not really have to abide by the recommendations outlined by the DOJ report, a report that carries with it the threat of legal action against the city if all complaints have not been addressed.

9. Finally, by concluding this, they also conclude that they have the legal right to torture citizens by merely accusing them of a criminal offense. (remember, the jail houses mostly pretrial detainees and the city agrees that deadly abuses occur, also that torture in the US is defined as pain intentionally inflicted of such intensity that it simulates or causes organ failure or death).

So, we see that the specific argument being used is an assertion that the Seattle Police Department, King County Sheriff's Department, and the King County Jail staff may simply accuse someone of a crime, misdemeanor or felony, in order to have legal standing to torture , maim, or murder that person without fear of legal sanction.

While one would hope that this is not the intended end result of such an argument, it is the ultimate logical conclusion to the use of said argument and, unfortunately, given the recent track record of the city in regards to police misconduct and prisoner abuses, it seems quite possible that this is their actual intent.

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