Human Plights

International group urges immediate stop to Arpaio jail practices

After putting the cushion under Post, detention officer Steve Kenner then jerked down on the chair's straps over Post's shoulders so hard that Post's neck was broken.

Post, a man paralyzed below the waist yet deemed so dangerous by Arpaio's jailers that they left him in the restraint chair for six hours, has now permanently lost much of the strength in his arms and lives with constant neck pain.

"Amnesty International finds it highly questionable that no alternative measures were available to deal with the situation, especially as Mr. Post was already incapacitated in a wheelchair. The use of restraints in this case and the manner in which they were applied . . . appears to have been unnecessarily punitive and to have amounted to cruel and inhuman treatment," the report says.

The organization also questioned the use of a restraint chair in the death of Scott Norberg. "There appears to have been no attempt to have used alternative measures to extreme physical force, nor any examination of his mental condition despite his disturbed behaviour. The decision to place him in the restraint chair . . . appears particularly questionable."

Last year, New Times examined the 2,000-page Sheriff's Office investigation of Norberg's death and found that none of the sheriff's investigators had questioned the use of the restraint chair. The report also contained evidence that detention officers had knowingly ignored signs that they were killing Norberg, evidence that didn't make a streamlined version of the investigation put out by Arpaio ("Sanitized for Joe's Protection," October 24, 1996).

Other cases of abuse cited by Amnesty International included that of Eric Johnson, whose arm was broken by detention officers in 1994; David Hoyle, "who allegedly sustained broken teeth and spine and knee injuries after being kicked and beaten and stunned repeatedly with a stun device by officers in December 1994"; and Bart Davis, who claims to be the inmate stunned in the testicles after being strapped in a restraint chair and who was mentioned in a federal investigation of the jails.

The report also acknowledges that the Sheriff's Office has taken measures to "address the issue of force," but added that "Amnesty International was not able to obtain a breakdown of the number of officers disciplined for excessive force."

"Arpaio's practices are remarkable in their lack of insight. But they're popular because it looks like he's getting tough," says Dr. Daniel Georges-Abeyie, Arizona coordinator for Amnesty International. "Sheriff Joe is doing exactly the type of thing that leads to insurrection in a correctional setting."

Last November 17, that's just what the sheriff got. Yet, despite the Tent City riots, a federal Department of Justice investigation that found inmates were being physically abused and continued examples of inmate mistreatment and medical neglect, Arpaio has refused to make significant changes in his policies.

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These reports I am amazed, still continue. Why hasn't anyone who is an administrator over Sheriff Arpaio not doing anything about the shameful and disgraceful way he istreating the inmates in his jail system? I have known aboutthese practices since a relative was incarcerated and hadn't been charged. He was merely in a holding pattern un-til he had his day in court. And there are so many holdeeswho have to put up with rotted food, being sick continuallyand now no medical staff to help right the wrongs made byan unsafe diet. The man is sadistic and insane. Let the manbe investigated. Especially about what happened to the drugbust evidence found missing under his watch, back in the late 90's. And what about his children that were arrestedfor dealing? They never turned up in jail. This news wasthrougout the jail, but never leaked to the press. McCain has a deaf ear and blind eye to what happens underhis trickle down government offices including the countyjail and Sheriff. He supports Sheriff Arpaio, so that sayswhat McCain is all about. Corruption runs rampant in thePhoenix jail system. And it's time the truths were exposed.

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