24 Oct 04

Abuse of Juveniles at Arpaio's Jail

Today I received an eyewitness account from a reliable source that described some violence that occurred last month at the Madison Street jail. Sadly, the victims were juveniles.

The juveniles are housed upstairs in the jail where they suffer the same conditions as the adults. On the day in question, the juveniles had been raising hell - their activity included several fights, gallivanting around the pod naked with pink towels wrapped around their heads, and, one of them had tried to hang himself. Failed suicide attempts always invite harsh reprisals.

A dozen restraint chairs were brought to the juveniles' pod. These contraptions look like they've been lifted from a medieval torture chamber. Inmates limbs are strapped into these chairs. They are low to the ground and have tilted backs. To prevent spitting, nets are sometimes placed over the inmate's face.

The violence began with the guards tasing most of the juveniles, who collapsed on the floor.
One of the untased juveniles spat on a guard’s face. This juvenile was held down and pummelled by two officers twice his age, size and weight. The pod was searched, property was confiscated and the juveniles were left to suffer wearing only their pink boxers. Some of them got to spend a few days confined to their cells completely naked.

Surely committing violence on juveniles is only going to traumatise them and add to their future unlawfulness.


Anonymous said...

If you have had a jackboot in your face for years the only thought in your mind when the kicking stops is, 'Where can I get a pair of boots like that?'

Violence begets violence. Or, as William Blake so succinctly put it,'What we behold we become'.
John Williams

Anonymous said...

oh my god, i can't believe that a prison is allowed to be run in such a barbaric and inhumane way. it's scary to think that such things are allowed to happen in a supposedly liberal and enlightened country. then again they did re-elect Bush....

naomi, uk

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Jon's final statement. Counselling should be a pre-requisite for prisoners and guards alike. Let alone the effects of this appalling treatment on the prisoners' psyches, the guards will undoubtedly experience the psychological effects of dishing out the treatment. It seems to be linked more generally with the issue of fear in American society, and the fact that aggressive reactionary behaviour is still deemed an appropriate response to a psychological challenge - in this case the prisoners' challenge to the guards' presumed authority. It is vital that a culture of toleration and understanding is fostered if any progress it to be made. The result of the recent election has, I believe, highlighted the difference in attitude between those states in the North and on the coasts, and the mid-western states. The more well-thought out values of the 'blue' states needs somehow to be transferred to the backward states in a non-confrontational manner. Doing this I'm sure is a mammoth task in itself, and for it to permeate the prison system, an even greater one. Thankfully the issue is at least being highlighted by individuals like Jon. The only question now is who has the ideas and agency to do something about it.

Enjoy your walking!

Best wishes,


Anonymous said...

It deeply pains me to be an American each and every time I read your posts. To have a system that believes it's "OK" to treat people in such a manner, I don't care what they may have done, it's just not right.
I'm equally upset that Joe Arpaio was re-elected. I don't live in Arizona so I couldn't vote against him. I really wish more people in Arizona were aware of what is going on at that jail.
I hope that one day an American reporter will grab hold of your story and help to change the system. Or at the very least, bring these atrocities to light.

Thank you for your blog, even though it brings me to tears nearly each time I read it...I like hearing that you're OK.

Pattie Lee
Chicago, IL

Anonymous said...

America is a magnificent country, inhabited by a nation of the most kind, generous and friendly people I’ve met, and I’ve travelled the world extensively. I feel certain that what is happening in the jails of Phoenix, Arizona under the infamous sheriff, is not typical of American jails. I am also certain that the vast majority of Americans would feel similar emotions to Pattie Lee of Illinois if they were aware of what is going on. Jon, you must continue with your writing because you have provided an articulate voice which is representing the hundreds of men and women who go unheard, and maybe one day things there will be changed.
Be proud to be American Pattie, you are the kind of person that has made America great.
John Dickson
Manchester, UK

Anonymous said...

It is not soft hearted liberals who made our country great. It was people who believed in law and order and severely punishing criminals such as Jon. The juvenile delinquents deserved what they got. They are criminals for Gods sake!!!