March 27, 2017 – Inmate falls to death in possible suicide
April 10, 2017 – Inmate dies in fall at Elmwood Correctional Facility
April 28, 2017 – Inmate falls to death in possible suicide
June 20, 2017 – Inmate Found Unconscious At Elmwood
The notable thing about all these cases, and many others that may or may not have been reported in the media is none of these incidents happened anywhere near a camera. You may say, “well body cams are on the way” – this latest “fall” off the second tier, like the others, wouldn’t have been caught on body cams either. Officers again did not see this incident and currently have no idea whether it was a suicide or a murder or even maybe an accident. They were already pushing the story it was a suicide early this morning, despite not even yet having any real idea how long the individual that “fell” had been lying there. With 600 inmates on the camp, there were only a maximum of 4 officers at the time. The sheriff, despite all the academies she’s passed, has still been unable to maintain a successful minimum staffing program. For that matter, she still has failed to implement a minimum staffing policy since the Blue Ribbon Commission. With no policy, there is no goal, with no goal established in black and white, she can keep pretending that there isn’t a revolving door that she’s barely staying ahead of.
She doesn’t care. She doesn’t pay the price. She doesn’t care about dead inmates as long as there are no follow up questions and lots of coverage about all her “solutions” which evaporate into thin air as soon as the cameras and recording devices are gone.
At what point does the media begin to find it difficult to step over the bodies piling up? On top of the above deaths, there’s been a guy beaten to death in his cell by his cellmate, on May 16, 2017. You only heard he was beaten unconscious because the sheriff cited him out while he was at the hospital before he died. You also never heard how an officer listened to this assault go on for 15 minutes before his partner returned from lunch and finally responded, finding the inmate still beating his unresponsive cellmate. There was also the recent incident of an inmate who was stabbed 40+ times on March 26 when 2 other inmates attacked him. Yet we’re supposed to believe the increasingly common falls off the second tier locations are all “suicides”. Even if they are all suicides, what has the sheriff done to mitigate the situation? Still no safety measures have been taken, still misclassifying inmates for convenience, still endangering lives with complete and utter disregard.
It comes down to this, if the least of us can’t expect to be safe and be treated fairly and humanely, neither can any one else; any one of us can end up in jail just by the nature of the universe taking an unfortunate turn.
The sheriff claims she wants more time to fix the jails. Keep in mind the jails were given to her in 2010 under the guise she could do a better job with 10M less dollars, or more. This is a woman who cares so much for her job and has so much respect for the office she runs, that she’s out there currently campaigning (and make no mistake, she is campaigning) with a patch on her shirt that’s something like 8 or 10 years old. Do you think if a deputy was still walking around with a retired patch this many years later, there wouldn’t be repercussions? This is just another example of how the sheriff shows her personnel that she does not care. She makes nearly $300K in salary a year, and she can’t afford to get new patches sewn on her shirt? With that kind of attention to detail, I don’t see the jail deaths stopping any time soon.
I don’t expect the CPOA to be the ones to step up, the CPOA president recently took the lieutenant’s position she turned down during the BRC and has been seen on the campaign…er… PR trail with the sheriff recently. She’s convinced the CPOA body she has a great relationship with the sheriff and she can get whatever she wants. What she isn’t telling them is what she wants is publicity cred so she can run for office when she retires — she’s not looking out for them. They should ask the DSA about those “great” relationships with the sheriff – it’s part of the reason the DSA refuses to support the sheriff today. Those “great” relationships resulted in safety issues being overlooked, grievances being ignored, extensions of MOUs for years without raises. It’s a shame, because the officer’s lives are in danger too with everything happening, and an enclosed environment like a jail can be more dangerous than the streets sometimes.
Other sheriffs are run out of office for a small percentage of the problems we’ve seen Laurie Smith create. For some reason, the voters and the Board of Supervisors want to let Laurie Smith to go full on Lee Baca before someone decides to have a conscience and get upset over the lies about how these jails are being run. The bodies don’t lie. If the officers inside don’t care enough, or leave because they are so tired of trying to care in a county that would rather insult them than listen to them, it’s tempting to say let the place burn itself to the ground with the overwhelming neglect.