“They Come to Expect Sub-Human Treatment”
The ACLU of Southern California wrote an open letter to Lindsay Lohan, Los Angeles County’s most famous inmate, that’s been making its way around the blogosphere. Worth highlighting is the letter’s summary of the important work done by that particular ACLU branch as the court-appointed monitor for the L.A. County system:
Based on the ACLU’s decades of experience as an official court-appointed monitor of the jails, and the stories of countless women with whom we’ve spoken, the facility where you are staying is an overcrowded detention facility where women are needlessly humiliated for so long that they come to expect sub-human treatment.
It’s a place where an eight-months-pregnant woman was forced to sleep on the floor because she could not access the top bunk to which she was assigned. A place where women have said they are made to stand naked while menstruating, as they waited for jail-issued clothes. And a place where women routinely tell us they cannot get access to the same medications they took in the community (though we doubt that you will face this same problem.)
Group punishments and degrading group strip searches are routine, as are reports of deputies calling women “bitches” and other derogatory names. And while you get private visits with your family and friends, every other woman’s visitors must wait in long lines on the weekends.
We know from the more than 4,500 complaints we receive annually that the women’s facility is a lot nicer than the Men’s Central Jail – where rats roam the tiers, and violence is as routine as sunshine in California. We’ve seen men with broken legs and black eyes. It‘s not uncommon for a prisoner to be thrown up against the wall or punched, simply for asking a deputy a question.