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Thursday, December 6, 2007

King County Council Takes DOJ Report Seriously (NOT)


Disregard everything below this. The news article about the King County Council's response to the DOJ report citing constitutional rights violations at the King County Jail is entirely innaccurate.

I watched a video recording of that hearing and all the council members did was talk about how they could answer the report in a way that limited what they had to do to fix the problems cited. In other words, they talked about how they could whitewash the whole thing and keep on abusing detainees as usual.

It was a shameful disgrace, and after watching that video I am now more certain than ever that the abuses and torture will continue at the King County Jail.


Finally, someone actually understood how important the DOJ investigation into civil rights abuses at the King County Jail really is. The King County Council had some very harsh words for the KCCF administrators who insisted that abusing prisoners and denying them access to medical treatment wasn't an abuse of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Councilman Dan Ferguson seemed to understand the disconnect clearly when he told the head of the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention that "There's a huge divide between 'room for improvement' and what's in the report." in response to King County Executive Ron Sims' and DAJD head Reed Holtgeerts' attempts to cover up problems by denying that endangering pretrial prisoners was a violation of their rights.

While the jail, despite insisting that the existing jail practices are not in violation of anyone's civil rights, states it is working with the DOJ to correct the potentially deadly items cited in the DOJ report, the King County Council suggested that it might be a good idea to create an oversight board to ensure the jail conforms to expected standards of prisoner care.

As an innocent victim of abuses in that jail, I personally thank the King County Council for seeing how damning that report really is and wholeheartedly encourage the pursuit of establishing an oversight board due to the jail's repeated attempts to cover up deaths and downplay abuses at the facility.

full story at The Seattle Post Intelligencer

UPDATE: The Seattle Post Intelligencer changed the story a few times on their website, so if the link doesn't work let me know.

But further than that, after changing the story they watered it down a bit by describing the physical abuse cited in the report as merely a matter of guards pulling prisoner's hair. The report actually describes this as a "
hair-hold maneuver" which is also used as a martial arts take-down move which can be exceptionally risky, as the report specifically describes, when used on prisoners who have their hands cuffed behind their backs because they cannot slow their momentum as their faces are driven down into the concrete floors.

Indeed, the report specifically cites at least two cases of prisoners being spun around and driven face down into the floor by use of the hair hold takedown, some of these cited cases resulted in multiple contusions, bleeding from the ears, and eye lacerations that required sutures.

Clearly these are more than just a matter of guards grabbing prisoners by the hair, it is a matter of egregious physical abuse that violates the constitutional protections for pretrial prisoners. It's important that the media reports this accurately.

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