September 17, 2005

Left To Die, Without Reason

Why was an quadriplegic left to die in prison for a first time drug offense? What is wrong with this people?
It was on Sept. 20, 2004, that D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin sentenced Magbie, a quadriplegic since an accident at age 4, to 10 days in the D.C. jail. His crime? Possession of marijuana.

Five days after falling into the hands of the D.C. government, Magbie was dead. He died a horrible death. It was preventable. But nobody in the system cared.

Looking down from her bench, Retchin saw a first-time offender. He controlled his wheelchair with a mouth-operated device. He could breathe only with a battery-controlled pulmonary pacemaker. At night he needed the assistance of a respirator. He could have been sentenced to home detention, where he would have had round-the-clock attention. Instead, Retchin, apparently upset when Magbie refused to swear off weed, which helped him get through a miserable existence, sent him to that taxpayer-supported hellhole near the Anacostia River known as the D.C. jail.

What happened to Magbie at the jail and at Greater Southeast Community Hospital, where his life ended five days later, shouldn't happen to a dog. In fact, it doesn't happen to dogs and cats in the custody of decent and caring people.
I am a paraplegic since 1999, I am able to go to school, stores, movies, restaurants and so on without worrying if I am able to access the places I have to go. Some locations are better than others with their accessibility, I only had a few problems with access to places.

One place I hope I never had to worry about access is to a jail.

In this diary, I have written about Americans With Disabilities Act and Disabled Inmates. I know the person in the story committed a crime and should be in prison for the appropriate amount of time, but the jail should be suitable for this basic needs. Being held in a cell so narrow that he can not turn his wheelchair, being forced to sit in his own waste, not able to go to bathroom or bath without help is inhumane and degrading.

Being able to shower, use the bathroom without help, attending counseling and religious services are basic needs for the prisoner. Americans With Disabilities Act should not stop at the door of a prison.

Via My Left Wing


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