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Monday, March 17, 2008

King County Executive Ignores Civil Rights Abuses While Arguing For Social Justice

King County Executive Ron Sims has started a so-called crusade to examine issues of social injustices. This would be admirable if this weren't the same Ron Sims who insists that abusing pre-trial detainees and denying them medical care in the King County Jail wasn't a violation of their constitutional rights in response to a Department of Justice investigation that found deadly rights violations at the jail.

What's interesting is that it appears that the jail is continuing to practice the same abuses while Sims pretends to be concerned about issues of injustice and while King County tries to convince the DOJ that those problems no longer occur.

If Sims would have accepted the findings and pledged to make sure they don't happen anymore, and if there weren't new reports of abuses continuing to come from people who had been detained there as recently as this month, then maybe he would be a credible speaker as to the issues of social justice. Instead his track record in this regard only serves to undercut his message and makes it sound like a sick joke in the same vein as if Eliot Spitzer were to take the pulpit and speak out against the injustices of prostitution.

One would think that even he would see the obvious absurdity. Indeed, an editorial in the Seattle Times asks "Sims is doing some agitating, putting this in everyone's face. We won't know whether it will work until the county has to make a hard choice that tests its commitment, and ours."

...Seems that the DOJ investigation already tested that commitment and Sims failed to rise to it... unless, of course, he really does feel that abusing potentially innocent civilians in his jail is socially just.


Anonymous said...

I really like Ron Sims. (one 'm,' there are multiple typos in the article). I kind of secretly hope his pre-mature superdelegate backing of Hillary Clinton forces him to stay local rather than run off to DC. Sims for Mayor!

Anyway, the statement attributed to him in the PI article is very short:

'Sims said he is convinced the county runs a "constitutionally sound facility."'

Ron's no doubt a busy man. All day long people want a piece of his time to discuss Transit/HealthCare/Parks in addition to his pet elect HRC project.

A lot of people ride the bus everyday, far fewer get thrown in jail daily. It's pretty easy to guess where the lion's share of his attention will go.

So I have a plea. Contact him. Don't just sit back and read this nice little blog. Don't just sit back and smugly think you won't get thrown in jail. Don't just sit back, stewing and brooding, about your rough time in jail. Write him a letter!

Ron Sims, King County Executive
701 Fifth Ave. Suite 3210
Seattle, WA 98104

Squeaky wheel gets the grease. One government report, no matter how serious, is probably easier to skim over than 10 letters from constituents.

Packratt said...

Hey, thanks for the comment, the correction (incorporated), and the info.

I really do appreciate it.

As for Sims, while on the face of it I would agree that he'd likely be too busy with his prefered pet projects and typical constituent concerns to bother with what's happening in his jail...

However, it seems to me that a federal investigation and the threat of a lawsuit, along with all the press attention given to the investigation, would have snagged his attention... and I'm sure it did.

I'm pretty certain the response was political, denying that jail abuses rise to the level of being civil rights violations when the DOJ says they do is the default response to such reports that other municipalities issue. To me, however, it's not a sufficient excuse, especially when I received messages from people who've been there recently and say the same abuses still occur.

What really bothers me is that the King County Council is more agitated about the abuses in their animal shelters than they are about the abuses in their jail. We see that potentially innocent pre-trial detainees rank lower than animals in King County, and the treatment shows it.

But, I don't write that to dig into you. You've made a very valid suggestion and I do truly appreciate that.

I just don't buy the "Sims is too busy to understand how hypocritical it sounds for him to speak out on social justice issues while ignoring deadly abuses that continue in his own jail." excuse.

We'll see what happens. Thanks for the comment!

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