by Charles William Wright III
I’m a Chicago native. On Sept, 7, 2010, I was thrown in what Los Angeles County sheriffs called a cell in the Century Regional Detention Facility, 11703 Alameda on the Mona Boulevard side. There was no toilet in the room. Instead of receiving a citation, I was handcuffed though not arrested – not read my rights – for not paying $1.50 train fare.
Sgt. Mario Rodarte waited until I was handcuffed in the car to pull out a Taser and spark it, trying to intimidate me. I responded by cursing and ended up at Century Regional an hour later, near 8:30 p.m. Arrested at Seventh and Metro on the Figueroa side, I was taken over 10 train stops away and thrown behind bars, although I remained silent, never showing ID.
I was booked under the fake name “Charles White” and booking number 2469541 although I hadn’t been asked to fingerprint. The next night, Sept. 8, I was asked to print and exercised my right to refuse. Two uniformed men forced my prints while others videotaped. After the illegal printing, I was taken to Men’s Central Jail.
I spent Sept. 8-9 on a bench handcuffed as if I was Hannibal Lecter (“Silence of the Lambs”). I was in excruciating pain. Then I was tossed in 172B Pod 12 on the seventh floor of TTCF (Twin Towers Correctional Facility) but never knew which tower and no one answered my questions. My right arm was cuffed outside the pod through a food drawer and attached to the door handle with my body inside.
On Sept. 10 or 11 – it’s hard to remember – three plain-clothed Hispanic men came up to the pod in the middle of the night and yanked the chain with cuffs attached, causing me to be cut and bloody. I refused medical treatment and asked to be released because no charges were pending against me. I was laughed at and demanded a phone call. I was denied. I asked the nurse and psychiatrist – LACSD called me a mental patient – to get me a phone call to ACLU. It never happened.
I remained under “handcuffed observation” until Sept. 20 and went to court at 210 W. Temple St., where I was barefoot and handcuffed behind my back in court. I remained silent and was thrown back into 172B Pod 12 without cuffs until Oct. 1, when Sgt. Geary, a white female, came up to the pod with a court order to release me because Judge Craig Richman knew there were no charges against me.
The jail sheriffs ignored the order, put me on a bus and forced me into court. I remained silent and was thrown back into the pod. On Oct. 22, the sheriffs got a hearing for me to appear at 1150 San Fernando Rd. for a “mental competence hearing.” I was deemed competent.
On Nov. 5, Commissioner Kristi Lousteau gave me time served for 422 P.C., which my public defender, Brandon J. Henderson, said was a misdemeanor. They overlooked the fact that the complaint was unsigned by the alleged victim and committing magistrate. On Nov. 9 I went to get a copy of the case file, BA375709, from the clerk’s office and some employee had forged the victim’s signature. Fortunately I had already obtained the original file from Henderson.
I was in jail for 61 days with no charges, no shower, no phone, no brushing teeth etc. Sheriffs turned water off in the pod for 20 days and I was naked in the pod until Nov. 5 after court. If you would like to help me sue and/or close the jail, call me at (213) 784-5135 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
L.A. County Jail statistics
Deaths reported as suicides in the Los Angeles County Jail:
• October 2010: One supposed “suicide” each day. Oct. 2-5: Three “suicides” in four days.
• August 2009: Two supposed “suicides.” A mental patient murders a transient who was in jail for vandalism. Why is a mental patient in population?
• 2009: Eight supposed “suicides.”
• 2000-2007: Los Angeles rated 10th of the top 50 counties for inmate deaths in California, with 17 percent of inmate deaths for top 50 counties in Southern California.
Not all these deaths are suicides. An attempt was made on my life while I was there, and it was set up to be a phony “suicide.” I know a Black family whose female relative was murdered in her single cell. The body was held from the family for 30 days and the autopsy was held longer. Cause of death was “inconclusive.”
According to a 2010 report, the Los Angeles jail system held over 20,000 detainees and is the largest jail on earth, costing nearly $1 billion a year to operate.
This is the 21st century, yet the conditions in the Los Angeles County Jail are similar to slaves packed tightly on a ship during the Middle Passage. Men’s Central Jail is so overcrowded that each three-man cell houses six men.
This is the 21st century, yet the conditions in the Los Angeles County Jail are similar to slaves packed tightly on a ship during the Middle Passage.
What percentage of these inmates are Black? How many are charged only with misdemeanors and could be released on their own recognizance? How many refused fingerprinting like I did? How many have zero bail and a zero bail hold like I had? Why aren’t bails reduced more often since jail is so grossly overcrowded?
Charles William Wright III can be reached at email@example.com. This story first appeared in the People’s Tribune.