Lawsuit Challenges County Jails’ Use of Solitary Confinement

A new class-action lawsuit brought by two inmates claims Santa Clara County’s use of solitary confinement is inhumane and unconstitutional.

Brian Chavez and Brandon Bracamonte—who have been charged but not convicted of any crimes—say they spent years isolated in tiny concrete cells at San Jose’s Main Jail with little human contact, natural light, fresh air or exercise. Their lawsuit, filed last week in federal court by the inmate advocacy group Prison Law Office, alleges that the county routinely isolates hundreds of men and women in cells as small as 6-by-7-feet in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

“The county is harming people by locking them in harsh conditions of solitary confinement,” said Kelly Knapp, a staff attorney for the public interest law firm. “People isolated in tiny jail cells for 22 to 24 hours every day become depressed and suicidal. Those with pre-existing mental illness suffer from worsening symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. To make matters worse, many of these men and women did nothing to deserve being placed in solitary confinement in the first place.”

The nonprofit law firm raised those concerns twice in recent months, but the Sheriff’s Office gave no indication that it would improve its maximum-security wings.

Jail officials have been under the microscope since the fatal beating of a mentally ill inmate in August, allegedly by three correctional officers.

At least 40 inmates have died in custody at either the Main Jail or Elmwood Correctional Facility since the start of 2010. During that same timeframe, inmates have filed 374 use-of-force complaints, according to records first reported by San Jose Inside. Only four have been sustained. Seventy-two incidents were classified as “closed at intake,” meaning they weren’t investigated.

Michael Tyree’s Aug. 27 beating death prompted the county’s Department of Corrections to go back and review some of those complaints. The county also assembled a citizen’s Blue Ribbon Commission to review custody operations. Meanwhile, a risk-management consultant has been conducting a concurrent confidential review of both jails.

In a statement, Sheriff Laurie Smith said she “appreciates the perspective” brought by the Prison Law Office. “We believe that the more eyes on our custody operations, the better,” she said.

Chavez, one of the plaintiffs and a pretrial detainee, was booked on narcotics and conspiracy charges in November 2011. Though later indicted, he has not been convicted. It should be noted that pretrial detainees—theoretically presumed innocent until proven guilty under the U.S. Constitution—generally receive the same treatment as convicted criminals.

As an inmate, he never engaged in violent behavior and never racked up any jail infractions, according to the lawsuit. Officials appointed him a “jail trustee,” a designation reserved for inmates who demonstrate good behavior.

For three years, Chavez served as a trustee until November 2014, when—allegedly without notice, hearing or a chance to contest the decision—the county stripped him of his title and placed him in solitary confinement.

Chavez filed a grievance and asked to relocate to a less restricting housing assignment, but the county denied his request. The county held that he was “properly housed” and that his file would be reviewed every month. But Chavez said they never notified him of those reviews, if they even happened, or let him participate.

Bracamonte, a co-plaintiff and another pretrial detainee, was booked in April 2012 on charges of carjacking and indicted on conspiracy, drug and gang charges. Inside jail, as with Chavez, he was never found guilty of rules violations or violence, according to the lawsuit. Also like Chavez, jail officials appointed him a trustee.

In August, however, the jail accused him of taking part in a “gang assault,” though it’s unclear what evidence was used to support the allegation. The District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the case. A month after the unsubstantiated incident, the county moved Chavez to a maximum-security unit without explanation, notice or change to challenge the assignment.

For a year, Chavez and Bracamonte sat in 6-by-7-foot windowless cells for 23 hours a day in Third West Max. According to the lawsuit, the county failed to keep the cells clean, forcing the inmates to live in filth. They could only step out of their cells about every other day. For months, the lawsuit claims, they were denied access to natural light and fresh air.

In July, the jail allowed the men an hour a week in a caged enclosure on the “yard” before sunrise. Chavez said in the complaint that he can’t remember the last time he felt natural sunlight.

The only times the men say they could leave their cells were for two-hour weekly non-contact visits with family, relocating to a new cell or showers every couple of days. Outside, they were always chained and shackled. They were strip-searched each time they returned to their cells.

Three days before the 27-member Blue Ribbon Commission was scheduled to tour the Main Jail earlier this month, the county relocated both men to slightly larger 8-by-10-foot cells, each with a single frosted glass window. But they remain on lockdown for all but an hour a day.

This prolonged isolation has led to debilitating psychological damage, Knapp said. Chavez, who is only 35 years old, has become preoccupied with fears of dying alone and forgotten in his cell. He has withdrawn from the rare opportunities for social interaction, including visits from friends and family.

Bracamonte has reportedly experienced similar effects. Before solitary, he used to read books to pass the time, but now he can’t focus for more than a paragraph. He said he has lost emotional connection with his wife and children.

According to the Prison Law Office, even inmates without mental health diagnoses can become mentally ill from prolonged isolation. The county, which oversees about 3,500 inmates in the men’s and women’s facilities at Elmwood and the Main Jail in downtown San Jose, keeps hundreds of inmates in solitary confinement.

Through their lawsuit, Bracamonte and Chavez want the county to end solitary confinement altogether. They also want a due process hearing for all people placed in restrictive housing, as well as an overhaul of the county’s inmate classification system.

In September, California scaled back use of solitary confinement in its prisons in response to a public interest lawsuit filed three years earlier by inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison. In Ashker v. Brown, inmates argued that the maximum-security facility’s reliance on indefinitely drawn-out solitary is unconstitutional. One Pelican Bay prisoner had been in isolation for 43 years.

To settle the lawsuit, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) agreed to systemic overhauls. Solitary confinement would be reserved for serious rules violations instead of a way to isolate inmates with gang ties. The settlement agreement also requires the state to establish procedures to prevent inmates from being held in solitary indefinitely.

But the CDCR case has no effect on the state’s 123 jails, which collectively house more than 73,000 inmates. Each jail sets its own policies, guided by state standards known as Title 15.

Title 15 suggests jails should let inmates out for at least three hours of recreation time every week. But the code doesn’t define “recreation,” which some jails have interpreted as an hour to walk in an empty room. And though it calls for a minimum of three hours, many jails offer no more than that.

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 9.49.39 AMThere’s no official tally of how many jail inmates in California are kept in solitary cells. A 2015 Bureau of Justice Statistic survey reported that about one in five jail inmates nationwide spent some of 2011 and 2012 in isolation. Inmates in restrictive housing tend to be mentally ill, people of color, younger, and transgender, lesbian, gay or bisexual.

In a June letter to Sheriff Smith, Prison Law Office director Don Specter said he’s concerned that inmates in some wings of the jails have been denied outdoor exercise for at least seven months.

“During that seven-month period, their only ‘yard’ was a small, empty cell in their unit,” he wrote. “In this ‘yard,’ they have no access to fresh air or natural light, and no room to exercise. This is in stark contrast to the [segregated housing unit] at Pelican Bay State Prison where convicted prisoners in the most restrictive setting receive 10 hours of outdoor yard time each week.”

Jails house hundreds of pretrial inmates who haven’t been convicted of anything yet remain on lockdown for 23 to 47 hours at a time.

“We have toured scores of jails and prisons throughout the nation, and the conditions we observed in the Santa Clara Jail units were harsher and more punitive than most we have visited,” Specter wrote in a follow-up letter.

Part of the issue is that jails weren’t designed for long-term stays. California-wide prison reforms in 2011 pushed thousands of non-violent state prisoners to county jails to ease overcrowding. But most jails were built more than 30 years ago and lack dayroom and recreational space, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

To accommodate the larger population, longer sentences and influx of mentally ill inmates, several counties have broken ground on new jail facilities. Santa Clara County recently landed an $80 million state grant to replace the Main Jail. Lease-revenue bonds using other county buildings as collateral will cover the rest of the cost.

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

34 Comments

  1. Solitary is an odd thing, jail culture is an odd thing too…

    A lot of folks sent to solitary don’t want to be there, and a lot of people in gen pop would rather be in solitary. The ones in solitary would love to be in gen pop, intimidating people, running contraband, starting a gang, etc. This is in contrast to those that want nothing to do with that stuff, and are often times forced into it.

    I fully expect a SJOTB response on this phenomenon.

    County DOC should consider allowing “Voluntary Solitary” THere is protective custody, but there’s a lot of folks I think would benefit from being able to state if they want gen pop or solitary upon admission.

    To me it would prevent crimes from happening inside of the jail. You can’t victimize the meek if they’re isolated from everyone else.

  2. STOP BEING AN EFFIN CRIMINAL AND YOU WON’T HAVE TO BE CONCERNED WITH LIVING LIKE THAT!!!

    • My charges were dismissed and I was relieved of any convictions…so NO, I wasn’t and am not a Criminal…yet my pretrial time was served in Solitary Confinement…anyways, your comment does nothing to assess the issue here but rather just simply portrays how ignorant you are….

  3. “…jail culture is an odd thing too…” Yes, it is odd to those of us who have never been jailed. However, the rules are clear and well known to those who’ve done a stretch or two.

    “You can’t victimize the meek if they’re isolated from everyone else.” Whoa, Cuz, that’s as naïve a statement as “you can’t get illegal drugs into jail.”

    • JMO sometimes people are wrongfully jailed, and the process for fixing that is a long one.

      And why should violent troublemakers be housed along with the white collar criminals? It’s just asking for trouble… Unless you like your jails being run that way.

      • “JMO sometimes people are wrongfully jailed…” Actually, Cuz, it’s rarely, not sometimes. “…and the process for fixing that is a long one.” Not if the error is obvious, or if you have a lousy lawyer. “And why should violent troublemakers be housed along with the white collar criminals? It’s just asking for trouble.” Here we agree, Cuz, to some extent, tempered by a realism you clearly do not possess. However, that is rare too, since the white collar criminals make bail. Trust me, there are no white collar criminals in jail unless they have been convicted or have pled guilty. If you were to change your assertion that shoplifters, small time dope sellers, and residential burglars should not be celled with robbers, rapists, and murderers, I’d agree with you. But none of your liberal soft on crime BS changes the fact Senores Chavez and Bracamonte have an easy way out of jail if they are innocent, and a slightly less easy way even if they are guilty. Let me explain.
        All persons charged with a felony have the right to a speedy trial. In California, that trial must occur within 60 days of arraignment, unless the defendant waives that right. The fact that Senores Chavez y Bracamonte have been in jail for so long without a trial means they have waived their right to a speedy trial. The fact that they continue to waive time to be brought to trial tells me they know that if they stand trial they will be convicted of the crimes they are charged with and are remaining in jail hoping that witnesses to their crimes die or disappear and the DA’s case will collapse. If they revoke their waivers of time to be brought to trial, the DA will have to take them to trial promptly or they will have to be released. If the DA’s case is weak, revoking their time waivers will probably result in a deal to sentence them to the time they have already served in exchange for a guilty plea. If they are innocent, they should go to trial; but of course, almost everyone except Jenn and you knows they are guilty. Also, they are more than likely third strikers facing 25 to life, which is why they have not revoked their time waivers and proceeded to trial.
        As Sheriff Joe Arpaio often says to his prisoners in the Pima County Arizona jail, “If you don’t like the conditions here, don’t come back after you are released.” The high recidivism rate is clear testament to the fact that Sheriff Joe’s advice falls on deaf ears, since the jagoffs keep coming back to jails and prisons all over our country.

        • Excellent points.

          Important to note that SCC jails are cushier than CA’s prisons. Assuming that prison sentencing is likely, it’s in the inmate’s interest to serve as much time as possible here rather than at Soledad, Pelican Bay, etc. Jail time is often deducted from prison sentencing. Good behavior in jail can be used to justify lighter prison sentences.

          Offenders benefit at the expense of Santa Clara County taxpayers. Assuming $146 / inmate day, the 34 month delay has cost us $148,920 so far for each inmate. If only 10% of Elmwood’s population is similarly situated, then the additional cost is at least $5.2 million per year.

          While inmates can waive speedy trials, they aren’t entitled to indefinite delays. Hiring more prosecutors and judges seems like a sensible way to accelerate the administration of justice and put the economic burden where it belongs: on the state – not SCC taxpayers.

        • Just a note, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is still from Maricopa county!
          No more baloney sandwiches that’s to expensive, peanut butter and jelly is standard fair now.
          You still get to wear pink underwear !

        • It is a common scenario for high level street prison gang members to “waive time” when locked up in County Jail. (Career criminals call county jail-especially Santa Clara County Jail- DISNEYLAND – and time served there is called VACATION- compared to State Prison).

          If they ever go to trial and are convicted their eventual sentence will take into account “TIME SERVED” in the county jail. Example – say one of these crooks is convicted and sentenced to 3 years state prison, since said crook served 3 years in County already (pretrial) he would be credited with time sered and released on state parole with an administrative or “paper commitment” to the state prison.

          Take into account that the idiotic voters enacted Prop 47 which turned many of the drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors AFTER these two were arrested when they were felonies and you can imagine they could possibly have already exceeded any sentence they might get if convicted of today.

          That aside, these guys as trustees and model prisoners before sent to solitary indicates that they were caught passing information between other inmates from the same gang family.

          There most likely is far more to these inmates story than Bleeding Heart – Pollyanna Jen is reporting and given her typical anti-law enforcement pro criminal bias even willing to consider.

  4. As a person of faith I believe solitary confinement is torture, plain and simple. And we must stop it.

    • Ross: as a “person of faith”, how many of these downtrodden, wrongly incarcerated, oppressed jailbirds are you willing to take into your home?

      • The sense of the sanctity of life needs to be considered when it comes to this practice, and that it will be perhaps a move forward toward deterring crime and violence in our prisons and in our community…since many of our brothers and sisters incarcerated will eventually make their way back into.

        • Ross,
          If my sense of accounting is correct about 3/4 of our brothers and sisters not deterred by their previous incarceration
          will return for some more education. It’s up to the individual to make the correct choice, we all wish it was better.

        • Yes – too many do make their way back. To incarceration.

          Roughly 65% from SCC jails v. ~85% from CA prisons. Not an exact comparison since recidivism criteria differs between SCC and state. Significant racial differences too. Hispanics and blacks are disproportionately represented. Example: CA’s black population is slightly over 7%, yet over 45% of 3-strikers are black.

          Instead of decrying jail conditions, cite proven alternatives. What practices and procedures achieve better outcomes? If you want to be taken seriously, then less hand wringing and more proven solutions and facts.

          • Christian scriptures say much about the way we are to treat other human beings (especially the most vulnerable) and it also teachs that it is important to honor and respect the dignity and worth that our Heavenly Father, has endowed in each of our brothers and sisters.

            So…when we put people into solitary confinement cells, which we all know are going to cause harm, then we have deeply violated that requirement from God…that is to honor and respect each human being.

            Whatever people may or may not have done, how do we treat them when we are trying to rehabilitate them?

            Why does our prison system focus on continuing to punish people rather than trying to figure out how to really rehabilitate them?

        • You didn’t answer my question Ross. How many of your incarcerated brothers and sisters are YOU, as a person of faith, willing to take into your home after they “make their way back into” as you so incompletely put it?

  5. We could move all the complainers down to a small resort jail in Maricopa County Arizona.
    They will have fresh air and lots to do, Sheriff Joe seems to think inmates there should be treated as well as our troops in the field, and no better. Do I hear anyone wanting a transfer? Personally I’d choose Club Gitmo!

  6. I understand inmates are asked their sexual orientation. If gay, then they are assigned a different uniform color, kept separated from general jail population, and are kept confined much more than general population. DOC’s rationale is that segregation is necessary for the safety of gay inmates.

    Several non-effeminate gay men have told me they opted for the general population rather than endure additional constraints that border on solitary confinement. Seems like this aspect warrants review too.

  7. It is inspiring that people are protesting the use of solitary confinement in Santa Clara County jail. Solitary confinement is a form of torture.

    Research points to the profound harm solitary confinement may inflict. Dr. Atul Gawande, in an article in The New Yorker, wrote of research on this practice:

    “And what happened to them was physical. EEG studies going back to the nineteen-sixties have shown diffuse slowing of brain waves in prisoners after a week or more of solitary confinement. In 1992, fifty-seven prisoners of war, released after an average of six months in detention camps in the former Yugoslavia, were examined using EEG-like tests. The recordings revealed brain abnormalities months afterward; the most severe were found in prisoners who had endured either head trauma sufficient to render them unconscious or, yes, solitary confinement” (Gawande, New Yorker, 3/30/2009).

    It is also essential to begin or continue some on-going constructive dialogue between the community and correctional staff and administrators. I truly believe that the vast majority of correctional staff are very good people who want to be humane and compassionate while also maintaining a safe facility. The fact that these actions are happening in spite of the good intentions of correctional staff points to the possibility of some very understandable burn-out from the toxic stress of their working conditions. As a community, we have failed to provide these people and institutions with what they need.

    In Santa Clara County and elsewhere, we need to explore any needs for increased staffing, increased vacation time, and the need for increased support from outside groups, including consultants to help people in prisons work on specific issues, help with programming for people in prison so they have something positive and constructive to do during the day, or any number of other options.

    Correctional staff do an often thankless and exhausting job. They deserve our support. If institutions are perhaps unknowingly engaging in acts that are a form of torture in spite of their deep commitment to promote a peaceful and compassionate community, then we need to figure out as a community in what ways we have failed to adequately support them.

    I applaud in the highest terms the work being done by everyone to end solitary confinement in Santa Clara County. Solitary confinement maims people’s minds and spirits and is profoundly morally wrong. I hope we can all continue to stand in solidarity with both people in prisons and with correctional staff and institutions.

  8. > Christian scriptures say much about the way we are to treat other human beings (especially the most vulnerable) and it also teachs that it is important to honor and respect the dignity and worth that our Heavenly Father, has endowed in each of our brothers and sisters.

    Ross:

    So what does Christian scripture say about how to deal with severely deranged, violent, uncooperative people?

    My reading of scripture says: declare them to be demonically possessed and perform an exorcism.

    So, would you support giving the Department of Corrections funding for a staff exorcist?

    • Oh boy, crazy Uncle Nate will be showing up for Thanksgiving at some poor families house…

  9. Please forgive me. I will do my best to control my rage, born of frustration, regarding this article and this issue. Ignorance can be cured with information but stupidity is terminal. Let’s work then on ignorance. There are so many things wrong here with the presentation of this issue that it would take a novel just to outline them all. Meyer Weed has covered some of the more salient points. I will address the “poster child” for solitary confinement, the inmate who spent approximately 43 years in isolation. That inmate was Hugo Pinell.

    In 1965, Pinell and an accomplice kidnapped a 22 year old woman right off the sidewalk, forced her into their car, drove her to Pinell’s apartment where over a 3-4 hour period, they beat her, raped her, committed a variety of other violent sex acts upon her and then stole her money from her purse before taking her back out in their car and dumping her on the street. Pinell was convicted of rape, robbery, kidnapping and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, and placed in San Quentin State Prison.

    In 1968, he was convicted of attacking a guard and transferred to Folsom State Prison.

    In June 1970, he was convicted of a similar assault and transferred to the California Correctional Center in Soledad, California. At Soledad, he was awaiting trial on separate charges of attacking another guard the previous December of 1970.

    On March 3, 1971, Pinell stabbed Soledad correctional officer Robert J. McCarthey after luring him to his cell under the guise of needing a letter mailed. McCarthey died in Fort Ord Army Hospital two days later.

    While awaiting trial for his involvement in a prison escape attempt and uprising at San Quentin, wherein 3 correctional officers and 2 inmates were tortured and killed, and while Pinell was serving a life sentence for rape as well as other life sentences for offenses committed while in prison. Pinell then also in a separate incident had to be subdued by guards after he stabbed his defense attorney,

    During the trial, San Quentin guards Charles Breckenridge and Urbano Rubiaco, Jr. testified that Pinell had cut their throats. On August 12, 1976, Pinell was convicted of two counts of felony assault by a prisoner serving a sentence for life imprisonment. In 1985,Pinell was serving his sentence in Folsom Prison.

    In January 2009, Pinell lost his ninth bid for parole in front of officials at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, extending his prison term(s) by another 15 years. (plus life)

    On August 12, 2015, Pinell, was “finally” released from the “horrors” of isolation/solitary confinement, back into the general prison population and then killed in the prison yard a few days later. So ends the sad tale of Hugo Pinell, the poor oppressed “poster child” for solitary confinement. Undoubtedly, a lawsuit is forthcoming.

    I ask this: If a killer is already in prison on multiple “life without parole” sentences, what is to prevent him from killing whoever else he feels like killing? What can the State do to him? Some of the offenses mentioned might be dated but they speak to the type of animal for which isolation/solitary confinement is required.

    It is all I can do right now to keep from breaking into a full-on Sam Kinison “primal scream” about the distinctions between jail classification, protective custody, and solitary confinement/isolation. If reporters are going to comment regarding such matters and bloviating politicians and activist ignoramuses are going to chime in (As Mr. Kinison might say it) “AT LEAST KNOW WHAT YOU ARE F$%%$#! TALKING ABOUT, AHHH OOHHHH!!!!”

    • Probably useful to agree on definitions. As I understand it, solitary confinement is a period of more than 90 days. Some researchers claim that psychological consequences surface after than time. On the other hand, long term isolation isn’t necessarily adverse: think hermits and those that practice religious observances in extended isolation.

      Corner cases such as Pinell seem straightforward. An institution’s primary concern is the safety of employees and those in custody. Isolation may be the only means to achieve this, and it becomes “the least worst choice”.

      One could claim that forbidding suicide is torture too. Inmates that choose to stop eating are force fed.

      Institutions have limited options to address behavioral issues. The lawful options seem limited to privilege revocation. I don’t believe that blending meals (as was done at Alcatraz) or serving only (nutritious and well-balanced) dog chow are viable options. Note: kosher dog chow is available – unsure about halal or other religious dietary preferences.

      Long term solitary confinement may produce adverse psychological changes. One study (Wikipedia) claims a 4% increase in recidivism, but the sample size was low and other factors could account for the variance.

      What do those that advocate against solitary confinement recommend as alternatives to address behavioral issues and safety concerns?

  10. Ross still hasn’t told us how many of his brothers and sisters he’s willing to take into his home when they are paroled. Could it be the answer is ZERO? A lot of platitudes about Christian charity, but no action from Ross.

    • I’ve taken in 2 on parole. They were former foster kids (as about 70% of CA inmates are) and, believe it or not, they’re HUMAN, just like you & me. They respected my house, my things & me. I never felt unsafe with them in my home. They both got jobs, attended their parole meetings, begged for services (which they never get because parole in CA is a joke), and when they couldn’t get the counseling they BEGGED for (because they recognized that they needed help, but the system isn’t set up for help, just punishment), I found them a private therapist who helped them undo bad habits (survival techniques they learned as children in OUR foster care system), and they’re both on their way to success. One will enroll in college in the Spring, the other works 2 jobs to pay back his restitution.

      See how that works? Yes, there are some horrible human beings out there, but I find that most of the horrible ones are NOT in jail and instead are often on threads like these pretending to be better and more moral than everyone else. Get over yourself & become part of the SOLUTION or keep moving.

      • Thinking: Thank you for your compassion and am grateful for the beneficial outcome in the situation you described.

        I volunteer at prisons, jails and at a parole initiative as part of a 12-step drug & alcohol recovery program. The plight of inmates and circumstances that led to institutionalization is heart wrenching. Change is tough and most slip back into substance abuse regardless if they are ex-cons or have avoided the criminal justice system.

        But some are able to turn their lives around – and that’s why I and others continue to volunteer.

        Research says about 14% of inmates – not 70% as you claim come from foster homes. See the study at http://www.sor.govoffice3.com/vertical/Sites/%7B3BDD1595-792B-4D20-8D44-626EF05648C7%7D/uploads/Foster_Care_PDF_12-8-11.pdf

        The topic began as a response to litigation about solitary confinement. So far, I haven’t seen practical and lawful alternatives. While long term solitary confinement may result in deleterious changes among some inmates, no one has posted an effective alternative.

        The harshness of some comments may be a reflection of the frustration many feel and that resulted in the 3-strikes initiative. Instead of decrying heartless attitudes, a more productive response might be to advocate for practical solutions.

  11. What all you self-righteous people are missing is that NO ONE in the jail HAS BEEN CONVICTED of a crime. So regardless of what you think “they deserve”, get off your high horse if you believe in the constitution or human rights. Those of you who defend the 2nd amendment should also defend the 14th. You don’t get to pick & choose which parts of the constitution matter. If you ever end up in jail (and it’s easier than you “holier than thou” folks think…), you better hope those in charge pay attention to your rights. It’s not hard to be human, even to those you don’t think deserve it. But if you chose not to be human, what are you?

    • “…not convicted of a crime…” that is simply not true in 2015 California thanks to (1) “prison realignment” and (2) the implementation of Proposition 47.

      Thanks for playing.

    • Thinking: Most of the folks I see at Elmwood *have* been convicted and sentenced. Jails are used for sentences of less than a year in addition to those awaiting trial and unable to afford bail. Meyer Weed identifies other reasons convicted felons serve jail time. I’ve met with a few at the main jail that are awaiting deportation too.