This is one of those stories that makes me so mad that I just have to post the link up here.
This poor woman was baked to death in a shadeless cage in 108 degree heat in the Arizona desert.
Why did they put her in a cage anyway? Did she become violent? Did she attack someone? Kill someone? What did she do that was so bad that they had to put her in the heat in the sun until she fell into a coma?
She was on anti-psychotic meds and she said she was suicidal…then she passed out…then she said she was having trouble breathing. Yep, that’s right. She had medical problems, probably caused by the anti-psychotic meds she was being given.
She was put in the cage awaiting transfer to a psychiatric unit.
• Powell passed out in her cell on the morning of May 19. A few minutes before, she had announced she was suicidal. She was taken to an outdoor cage to await transfer to a psychiatric unit. But the sergeant who saw Powell lose consciousness never reported the incident to supervisors, despite the fact that Powell said she was having trouble breathing.
So they put her in a dog-run type cage outside in the 108 degree heat. (Well, it could have been higher. 108 is as far as their thermometer went.)
(Have you ever been to Arizona? It’s so hot that even living there should be considered cruel and unusual treatment. Most people who live in permascorch places like that go from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned work to air-conditioned grocery stores. They don’t actually live out in that heat.)
• At least 20 inmates told investigators that Powell was denied water for most or all of the time she was in the cage, despite regular requests. Corrections officers said Powell was given water.
The most bitterly disputed aspect of the case concerns whether Powell was denied water.
Nearly all of the inmates interviewed by investigators reported that Powell screamed out for water regularly but was repeatedly denied. Others said she was granted water only once or twice in nearly four hours.
“I need some water – just a drop,” one inmate overheard Powell tell a corrections officer, who reportedly ignored her.
Another inmate reported that a corrections officer mockingly repeated Powell’s requests for water back to her, without giving her any.
Both inmates and staff members said Powell’s history of mental illness and frequent erratic behavior meant that some of her requests were not taken seriously. She did not get the staff’s undivided attention until she collapsed at 2:40 p.m.
• Powell was apparently denied a request to use the restroom and defecated in the cage. A corrections officer discovered that Powell had soiled herself but left her where she was. Medical personnel would later discover feces underneath her fingernails and all over her back.
Doctors on the scene said Powell’s body temperature was at least 108 degrees but may have been higher, since their thermometers topped out at 108.
They finally took her out of there in a coma. She was taken to a hospital where ADC (AZ dept of corrections) head Charles Ryan made the decision to terminate her life support, without even checking with her appointed guardian, the Mariposa County’s Public Fiduciary.
Now ain’t that a thing? (A thing that rhymes with “witch”.) Not only did they put her in this cage in the sun for merely having some medical problems, left her there with no water until she defecated all over herself and went into a coma, but then they even just decided to pull the plug without waiting to see if she had a guardian to make the decision.
These articles I’m reading suggest that Charles Ryan should resign or be fired. I think he should have to spend four hours in a cage on psyche meds with no water.
In case you’re wondering, she was in prison for prositution. She reportedly had severe mental problems, and from these stories I’m reading it sounds like she was a tweaker.
Even toothless tweaker whores shouldn’t die like this.
I have a suggestion. I think every one who’s about to become a cop or a lawyer or a judge or a parole officer or a warden or anything having to do with the prison system should first have to spend 3 days and nights in a jail or prison just so they know what it’s like. Don’t tell the guards or the inmates who they are or why they’re there (so they won’t get preferential treatment from guards and so they won’t get killed by inmates), just tell everyone they’re in there for a DUI or something and just let ’em hang out. Even if nothing bad happens to them personally, they’re liable to hear stories from the other people in there. They’ll see how the guards actually react to the inmates when they think no one important is paying attention.
Yes, I’m serious about this one! I’m not just talking out of my butt. 3 days, minimum. Maybe a week.
Politicians should have to do it, too. Especially the politicians, since they get so much political capital and attention out of their “throw away the key” speeches. (If a politician actually spent the three full days in jail, and still wanted to act tough on crime and all that, I’d respect them a little more for it. At least they’d know what they heck they were sending people to.)
Oh, you say that jails and prisons are too dangerous for that? We can’t send innocent people into those pens of rape and iniquity! Well, guess what? If they’re so durn dangerous, maybe somebody should do something about it.
And as for innocent people being put in prison…you know it happens. I’m not saying Marcia was innocent, or that I can even name any innocent people that are incarcerated right now. But just statistically, it’s pretty likely that there’s some innocent people in there. Sometimes the system works right, but you know how it is: shit happens.
I’ve been in jail once. For two weeks. Yeah, I know, two weeks, big deal. But you hear things. And you see things. And you get a sense of how much it would suck to be treated like that for long periods of time. A few days or a few weeks in jail can feel like a long, long time when you’re in there. And I handled it fairly well–I was bored, sometimes appalled and treated like crap by the guards, but at least I wasn’t crying and screaming and freaking out like some of the gals in there were. Of course, I knew I was only spending two weeks. It still felt a lot longer.
Here’s Marcia’s online eulogy.
One thing that struck me while I’m writing this: Marcia Powell is the same age as me. There but for the grace of God go I. I remember when I was explaining the meaning of that phrase to my son: it means that you shouldn’t look down on people in unfortunate circumstances, ‘cuz if your life had gone just a little bit different…if your brain was just a little messed up…if you or your parents or the other adults in your life had made a few bad mistakes…that could be you there. Don’t think for a minute that you’re so good and so smart that you couldn’t end up at the mercy of some sadistic creep with the key to your cell.
If you’re not in jail right at the moment, and no one’s treating you like crap, and you feel fine and have plenty of water to drink, I want you to thank your lucky stars right now.