“Find out the cause of this effect,
Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause.”

—-William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”

There is something rotten deep inside the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. It’s some kind of infection that permeates the entire agency and results in pustules that force the public and the larger justice system to take notice. Sometimes those pustules burst and leave no doubt that something is terribly wrong. Rank problems include too many poorly explained and poorly handled inmate deaths, charges of racial discrimination, profiling and harassment, and 6,300 lawsuits that have cost County taxpayers over $50 million and counting. Just to put that into perspective for you….take Harris County, Texas (which includes Houston)….over the last 17 years Arpaio’s MCSO has had 6 times as many lawsuits against it. Yes, I said 6 times. Something is indeed rotten…we should just call Sheriff Arpaio “Cousin Fester” and be done with it.

Not as if we need any more convincing but there’s yet another sad and infuriating story coming out of Joe’s jail hellscape.  Miriam Mendiola-Martinez, an illegal document with forged papers, was arrested in 2009 and she was pregnant.   What she says happened to her is a nightmare that no human being should ever have to endure.  Here’s a list of her charges:

  • They put her in jail while she was in active labor instead of keeping her in the hospital.
  • The purposely ignored her cries for help because they were in Spanish and not English (The Justice Department has confirmed that this was a common pattern of behavior for the guards.)
  • After being taken back a day later to the hospital to give birth via C-Section, she was not allowed to hold her son or nurse him.
  • She was shackled to her hospital bed immediately following the C-Section.
  • They took her out of the hospital early before she could be given pain medication and even before the hospital had officially discharged her.
  • When taking her out of the hospital, they had her shackled at both the hands and feet.  Her attorney said in an interview that I heard on KJAZZ this morning (can’t find the actual transcript) that she was bleeding down over her ankle shackles.

I don’t know about you, but I have had a C-Section and you can’t walk for quite a while afterward–like a full day afterwards. It’s major surgery and it hurts like hell.  It takes a minimum of 12 weeks of rest to recovery from. The fact that they had her up and walking out of the hospital (without doctor sign off) within hours not only violates hospital rules but the fact she had no pain medication is just plain cruel and unusual.

The lawsuit against MCSO was filed on Jan. 21st and one day later U.S. District Court Judge Joe Campbell threw it out of court saying that since she was not shackled during the actual labor her lawsuit cannot show that a constitutional rights violation occurred.  See the law says you can’t shackle a woman during labor but says nothing about before or after.  Industry practice, even in Arizona Corrections, is to never shackle a pregnant woman at any time unless she is a danger to herself and others.  So even though MCSO was violated their own industry practices, they weren’t technically violating the law–according to the judge.  A quick note, Judge Campbell is a well-known conservative.  In other words, there was little hope that this case could get past the patriarchal firewall of misogyny here in Arizona.  Thankfully, that’s what appeals are for.  Her attorney plans to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Until then, when will Maricopa County residents realize that this “effect defective comes by cause” and the cause is the guy at the helm of the rotting body that is MCSO.

  1. alopecia says:

    I’m not actually going to point and laugh. Go to latimes.com and search on “Lee Baca” to see why (http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-sheriff-baca-plans-to-retire-source-say-20140106,0,2296941.story is a good place to start). The LA County Sheriff’s Department has run the jails so badly and violently that there are federal criminal indictments against deputies alleging attempted intimidation of an FBI agent and beatings not only of inmates but also visitors; the department also hired unqualified people (and people who should have been disqualified from work in law enforcement).

    The difference between Los Angeles County and Maricopa County seems to be that in LA County it’s only the deputies who are the arseholes.

    • DRangedinaz says:

      “Baca won office in 1998 when his rival, incumbent Sheriff Sherman Block, died days before the election.”

      LOL, Well what do you expect? You all let the guy take such an important position just because his opponent died during the election!

      All kidding aside, when you see that kind of corruption….it has everything to do with the culture and the culture is determined top down in such organizations. And considering that both Arpaio and Baca have been in office plenty long enough to really affect the culture…then they have to be held accountable for what their crappy deputies do. But I know I’m preaching to the choir here.

      • alopecia says:

        The disappointing thing is that Lee Baca ran for sheriff as a reformer. He said all the right things, enough so that some deputies were actually calling for outright mutiny. “He sounds like a damn hippie-dippy social worker, not a cop!” was a common reaction.

        Baca ran headlong into a decades-old culture of impunity in the Sheriff’s Department and at some point decided to tinker a little bit around the edges of the problems and hope the public wouldn’t notice. If he’d chosen to run the department as he campaigned, Baca would have served one term and gotten voted out, but might have made a real difference. I guess a big office and lots of pretty stars on the collar have a real effect on people.

        Maybe the feds can make a difference.

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