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Packratt@injusticeinseattle.org

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Busy Seattle Police Misconduct News Day

Today was a fairly busy news day in regards to police misconduct in Seattle.

First there was the Mark Hays trial results, as mentioned below.

Then there was the $20,000 police brutality settlement (was that only what the city paid or the total settlement?) in the Claxton case, as mentioned on the sidebar.

Finally, it seems that the ACLU of Washington has taken it upon themselves to push an initiative to repeal anti-marijuana laws while still remaining silent about the deadly civil rights abuses that have occured in the King County Jail. Hey, I'll admit that I'm staunchly anti-marijuana and anti-drug use so I might be a bit biased concerning the ACLU's priorities, but people are dying in that jail because their civil rights are being violated, this seems more problematic to me than some pot-heads having the right to smoke themselves stupid... especially in Seattle where the government legislated that the police must make pot-related offenses the lowest enforcement priority possible.

What's more, it seems we missed that, on Febuary 8th, the ACLU of Washington issued a letter to encourage the city of Seattle to implement the police accountability reforms that were recommended by the mayor's OPARP panel. Oddly enough, the ACLU addressed this letter to the city council, of all people! The council has been supportive of the reforms, pending their own SCCPAP panel's review, while the Seattle Police Officer's Guild has been insistent in it's reluctance towards oversight improvements... This seems to show how out of touch the ACLU is about the real and severe civil rights issues that exist in Seattle by ignoring the well-publicized problems at the jail and showing their ignorance of the well documented problems with the guild's resistance to oversight reforms at the same time.
With "friends" like this, who needs abusive cops?

5 comments:

Seattle Crime Blogger said...

Before puting their resources towards helping criminals (why by and large have done SOMETHING to warrant their arrest), the ACLU has a duty to protect the civil liberties of the general population. Law abiding citizens deserve preferential treatment over criminals in almost every scenario imaginable, on the basis that they've behaved themselves throughout their lives and succeeded without resorting to crime.

It goes without saying that eventually, working towards promoting justice in jails should be a goal of the ACLU. But it is more improtant to stand up against draconian marijuana laws (laws that, almost everywhere in Washington beyond Seattle, are putting many nonviolent drug users behind bars).

This problem needs to be tackled from the top down: first, put an end to laws that lead to higher rates of incarceration; once that's been done, THEN we can focus on those still incarcerated. Doing it the other way, as you seem to suggest, makes little sense at all.

Packratt said...

Well, first, the King County Jail houses mostly PRE-TRIAL detainees which are supposedly presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Can you imagine the travesty of justice that it is when a person who was arrested by mistake suffers harm in that jail?

Would you, perhaps, consider it a crime if an innocent person was intentionally harmed in that jail because he was mistakenly thought to be guilty?

I understand your position, but consider this, people die in there, some of them are accused of non-violent crimes, and they are merely accused, it is not a prison, it is a jail.

I understand that you want to revise the laws first, which may protect pot smokers from detainee abuse but still allows detainees to be harmed for being accused of other crimes.

But I prefer that detainee safety be ensured first, and then the laws ammended so that pot smokers and other potentially innocent and people who committed crimes that didn't warrent a death penality are not harmed in a cruel and unusual fashion.

I suppose it's a matter of perception.

Packratt said...

By the way, I looked over your blog and I really liked it, you did a good job on it.

Thanks for visiting.

seattle crime blogger said...

Packratt,

First off, thanks for the kind words regarding my blog. I've been reading your work over here for a while and you're spot-on with most of your observations. It's always good to see the crime-world represented in Seattle blogs...to the best of my knowledge, yours and mine are the only two locally dedicated specifically to crime-related matters. And it seems like, between your work and the Stranger's SLOG, police accountability has finally become a matter of prominence in the local press.

Regarding the discussion we had earlier: it definitely is just a matter of perception, and admittedly, your understanding of the King County Jail is far beyond my own. For example, I was unaware that the majority of King County Jail inmates had still yet to go to trial. That definitely changes things.

I think we're both seeing this through same lens but from different angles...the beauty of the blogosphere. The one thing I think we can firmly agree on: the abuse of detainees - whether innocent or convicted, whether at Guantanamo Bay or at the King County Jail - is unacceptable and not up the standards America should hold itself to.

Keep up the good work!

Packratt said...

Thank you for the kind words as well, I appreciate it.

Media coverage of misconduct issues is still sporatic, one story appears here, another there, it makes it difficult to see the whole scope of the problem, especially when the SPD and OPA stay so tight lipped and secretive. That's why I spend a lot of time trying to consolidate the stories.

As for the ACLU's latest initiative. Personally, while I'm opposed to pot, I do think that if alchohol and tobacco are legal, that pot should probably be too. But I do find it hard to accept that the ACLU finds this a better use of it's resources and a higher priority for them than fixing the jail that sits a few blocks away from their headquarters is.

In any case, keep up the good work with your blog, I intend to become a frequent reader!

Take care, and thanks again.

 
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