Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lunch time rant: Erie County Holding Center

Bad news just keeps rolling in for the folks who run the Erie County Holding Center. Check out this article from the Buffalo News today:

Linda Arthur moves slowly on arthritic knees. She's 60 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, and a breast-cancer survivor who reaches for her medicine at noon
each day.

And she's dangerous.

Or at least she was treated as a danger to society for a weekend in December when jailed in the Erie County Holding Center. She was denied her medicine and other basics of civilized life: toilet paper, a toothbrush, soap, water, a blanket, a bed.

It all stemmed from a neglected parking ticket.

The sad thing is that this kind of treatment is a regular occurrence at the Holding Center. Just read the 14-page Justice Department report on the Center's deplorable conditions. My lawyer friends, a few of them acting as public defenders or assigned counsel, frequently share horror stories that match the report's findings: clients beaten in elevators, denied essential medication, and otherwise treated like garbage.

I know that there exists the sentiment that people in the Holding Center are criminals, deserving of whatever ill comes their way when behind bars, and I think it's crap. As the News' story demonstrates so well, people in the Holding Center aren't always mass murderers and child rapists. They are your neighbor, your kid who did something stupid, a family member who didn't pay her parking ticket. Hell, they are your favorite hockey player.

They deserve due process and they deserve humane conditions while being held.

I took a minute to write this while scarfing my lunch down because I wanted to get the word out about a related event happening tonight and every Wednesday in the near future*. If you can, please come out to demand some change and if you can't, at least drive by and give the crowd a good honk:

PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO rally outside EC Holding Center
Every Wednesday during rush hour traffic - 5:00-6:00PM
Outside the Erie County Holding Center (Delaware & Church)
*I know, two posts from me in less than 24 hours? Is it still the same Whitney?


Jeannine said...

So glad people are starting to realize how many "criminals" are in jail for strange or downright silly reasons.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mind is at the holding center.waitning for sentencing.He is innocent.I have visited him there.The place is dirty.needs to be painted.Among other things.He was arrested ayear an a half ago on manslaghter.He was protecting himself against a career criminal whom made deadly threats aganst him.

courtney said...

I read the story. Man.

Anonymous said...

I just spent an evening at the erie county holding center. It was the most awful experience I have ever endured. There was shit on the walls a toliet that wouldn't flush ( full of shit). One woman I was held with screamed all night long for water and the officer just laughed at her through the glass. I have never witnessed people being treated so inhumanely. I no longer live in the Buffalo area and after this experience I am ashamed of my hom e city. I had no legal reason for being held in that hell hole for twelve hours. I was at a concert with my brother who got his ass kicked by 5 rent a cops, for accidently running into a woman while he was dancing. I chose to speak out against what they were doing and they put me in hand cuffs and arrested me for "obstruction". I am going to do every thing in my power to speak out and make sure that place is shut dowm!!!!!