Stop Shackling OC Jail Inmates: Rally at noon! UPDATES: Sheriff Appeal/Stay, Rally Chants!


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From Transforming Justice OC:

Join community members on Sunday (11/24) from 12 to 2 PM at the Theo Lacy facility to demand the Orange County Sheriff’s Department end their inhumane and unlawful practice of indiscriminately shackling people in custody.

In mid-October, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department began shackling every person in jail custody while they are being transported to court and while they wait for their hearing in holding cells. People are awoken at 4am and shackled, with their wrists attached to their waists by six-inch chains. They aren’t released from these chains until they return to jail late at night. During their grueling 12 to 15-hour day, people cannot reach their mouths to eat, cannot use the restroom, and cannot straighten their backs. There are no exceptions for people who have disabilities or are pregnant, injured, or mentally ill. This draconian practice causes so much pain that people are pleading guilty just to avoid the chains.

The practice blatantly violates the Constitution.

Orange County public defenders have worked tirelessly to protect the rights of their clients. Thanks to their tremendous work, on 11/18, Judge Kathleen Roberts granted a motion to remove shackling restraints from people in custody and issued a countywide ruling that no person is to be shackled in the courthouse holding cells without an individualized assessment. Judge Roberts wrote, “Blanket shackling of in custody defendants demeans the dignity of the court process, the court room and the defendant and violates the due process rights of the accused.”  CLICK HERE FOR RULING.

Join us in support of the PD office’s victory and demand:

  1. OCSD abide by the ruling and take immediate measures to ensure personnel are educated on it;
  2. County Counsel not take the matter to the Court of Appeal; and
  3. Raise awareness of the unlawful and inhumane shackling practice.

Location:
Theo Lacy Facility
501 The City Drive South
Orange, CA 92868
You may park in the North parking structure located across from the Juvenile Courthouse and next to UCI Medical Center.

UPDATE:  SHERIFF BARNES APPEALS.

HERE’S HIS RESPONSE TO THE RULING:

Statement from Sheriff Barnes on Recent Court Ruling Concerning Court Security

On Monday Orange County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Roberts issued an order prohibiting the use of waist restraints for all inmates who are transported to OC courthouses and held in Sheriff-operated holdinig cells.  The order represents significant judicial overreach and a failure to take into account the safety of inmates, court staff and members of the public.

Interestingly Judge Roberts had initially recused herself from the issue citing her family’s current association with and her past membership in the ACLU, a political advocacy group that routinely advocates against law enforcement, the OCSD, and the concept of incarceration in general.  Days later, in contrast to her own self-declared conflict, Judge Roberts made a decision for the entire OC Superior Court system that was very much consistent with the ACLU’s anti-incarceration agenda.

At issue is my new policy requiring inmates to wear waist restraints while being transported to court and while being held in court holding cells.  The policy is an outgrowth of our new classification system.  As background, all correctional facilities use a classification system to determine the housing placement of inmates with a primary focus on their safety.

Proper classification ensures inmates are housed appropriate to individual needs and placed in cells where they will be most secure.  As part of my jail reorganization, OCSD implemented a new objective classification system that incorporates industry best practices.  The system is designed to maximize the amount of time inmates can spend out of their cell in a dayroom with other inmates.  Maximized out-of-cell time is more conducive to programming that enhances the opportunity for rehabilitation and reductions in recidivism.  Due to the nuances and expanded liberty of the new system, inmates of different classification level are put together when transported to and held at court.  When inmates of different classification level are mixed it is necessary to use waist restraints as a means of preventing assaults and other nefarious activities.

Although the change in classification is largely for the benefit of inmates, the Public Defender has made a political decision to challenge the waist restraint policy.  In fighting the policy, these lawyers have grossly distorted the restrictiveness of the waist restraints implying they prevent inmates from engaging in basic human needs such as eating and using the bathroom.  The facts prove otherwise.  In-cell video footage shows inmates eating, using the bathroom, and engaging in other basic human needs, such as blowing one’s nose.  The restraints, however, do accomplish the goal of limiting the type of movement that would be necessary to use violence against another inmate or staff.  Since the implementation of the restraint policy, assaults inside court facilities have been reduced by 60%, and there have not been any major disturbances.  In short, inmates entrusted to our care are significantly less likely to assault or be assaulted.

Unfortunately the order issued Monday relies on the public defender’s false narrative.  My staff and I are appealing the court order.  I am confident that a higher court will recognize past legal precedence, the safety benefits of the restraints, my statutory authority as Sheriff to provide for the care and custody of inmates, and the authority given to me through the Memorandum of Understanding between the Superior Court and the County of Orange regarding court security.

EDITOR (VERN):  For now there is no stay beyond today (Friday) and the Sheriff must follow Judge Roberts’ order beginning with inmate court trips Monday…  And rally still on, Sunday.  Beyond that…

Barnes starts by trying to discredit Judge Roberts for (allegedly) having once been involved with the American Civil Liberties Union, which he knows is a rightwing bogeyman still in OC.  He mischaracterizes the ACLU as being against law enforcement and his department, when that group is only trying to make him do his job lawfully and with respect to the Constitution and human rights.

Then he absurdly calls the decision “political.”  Advocating for the rights of prisoners is by definition NOT political, especially in Orange County, on the contrary it is POLITICALLY DANGEROUS.  Prisoners and inmates are NOT popular in a county like this.  If anything, the the politically elected Sheriff’s decision to defend his unnecessary shackling is political, playing on his constituents’ exaggerated fears and loathing.

Barnes labors to depict the new (5 week old) policy as primarily for the safety of the prisoners, and brings up the new “classification.”  What he’s talking about is the fact that now ex-gang members, snitches and suspected snitches, sex offenders and accused and suspected sex offenders, all of whom could be in danger from fellow inmates, will be protected from them by keeping 100% of inmates shackled.  He says in these past 5 weeks there’s been a “60% reduction” in assaults at court – leaving it to the imagination how frequent these assaults were before and after.  And they’re obviously still possible. 

We would probably get a 90+% reduction in these assaults if we just PUT A DEPUTY INTO THESE HOLDING CELLS.  The Sheriff’s Department has just been given $131 million raise by their sugar daddies on the Board of Supervisors, and traditionally these deputies sit outside the court holding cells with their buddies shooting the breeze, drinking energy drinks, and rarely poking their heads inside.  They’re paid well enough to be in the cells, if assault is indeed a worry.

And these endangered inmates can request extra security if they want. There are other holding cells.  This is not a good excuse for the dehumanizing shackling of 100% of the inmates. 

Rally still on, Sunday 12-2, Theo Lacy (actually on City Drive near Theo Lacy.)  [Facebook event]  I’m supposed to come up with ideas for chants.  I’ll accept suggestions in the comments section.

UPDATE Saturday morning

Update Sunday morning: Chants for rally

(to drill sergeant tune)
Tell the Sheriff that’s enough –
TAKE THESE PEOPLES’ SHACKLES OFF!
Say it loud, don’t say it soft –
TAKE THESE PEOPLES’ SHACKLES OFF!

(to Aretha Franklin melody)
CHAIN CHAIN CHAIN, NO BELLY CHAINS!
CHAIN CHAIN CHAIAIAIAIAN, TAKE THESE CHAINS AWAY!

(the oldy but moldy)
What do we want?
SHACKLES OFF!
When do we want it?
NOW!!

(from Assata Shakur)
It is our duty to fight for our freedom –
NOTHING TO LOSE BUT OUR CHAINS!
Love one another and fight for each other –
NOTHING TO LOSE BUT OUR CHAINS!


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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.