March 01, 2008

Who is going to be next?

Submitted by Kathy Figgs

On October 13, 2007 my brother, Johnathan Dawkins, who was an inmate in the Union County jail, was pepper sprayed and restrained by jail personnel. He was then transported to a hospital where he was placed on life support and remains to this day. He was not breathing and unconscious. He had two black-eyes, bruising on his neck, and a swollen face.

Who is going to be next? That is my question to you. Maybe your friend, husband, father, brother, son, sister, or even mother will wind up behind bars. No one is exempt, situations happen and people make mistakes. People are sent to jail short term and long term.

Who is to say that the law enforcement officers in the jails that are there to assure that the facility that is housing your loved ones runs smoothly on a daily bases, won’t decide that your family member, like they did with my loved one, is displaying abnormal behavior, and it is necessary for them to remove them, or as they so pleasantly use the term “send in a specially trained team of officers” to exact the inmate. And they inflict to much force in removing the inmate, that now someone else’s loved one is laying in the hospital fighting for their life or maybe dead.

Then will society see the importance of standing up and saying: “We will not allow the system to abuse in anyway anybody that is institutionalized anymore and if it does happen, we will hold the State, County, City, and the Administration accountable for the actions of their employees. We the tax payers pay their salaries and just because our loved one, for what ever reason, is now in jail this does not mean that you have the right to abuse him or her. The penalty for the crime should be what was set by the law for that crime and not a death sentence.

Well what I’m saying is we as the family members have to step- up and make sure justice for these inmates is ensured and not just swept under the rug and forgotten about.

The media will not address the issue. I’ve tried that route and all I got was “we can’t print that of which we have no proof”. Well I say you haven’t tried to even look into to what I’m saying to find the proof. Humm think about it.. But let some inmates escape and it’s all over the news but anything about how inmates are being abused, the news media doesn’t want to report about that... “We have no proof”, “we can’t substantiate these allegations”, that’s what I’ve been told. They hold up reforming the system and it’s wrong.

The media will not attempt to do what Geraldo Rivera used to do, you know, “investigative reporting” to expose the illegalities and human abuses of the prison system and instead will print statistics that lie to the people stating that incidents of police abuse and brutality are down.

The incidents of police brutality and the abuses by law enforcement and correction officers are not down, they are simply being ignored by said system and the media in an attempt to make people believe that incidents like Michael Bell in New York, my brother Johnathan Dawkins, my nephew whose mother is a police officer who was shot by another police officer in the back for being young and in the wrong place at the wrong time...this same young man, fifteen years old and already being considered as a hopeful track star for the next Olympics... Go back twenty or so years... names like Eleanor Bumpers, an elderly black woman, shot and killed by an officer… it doesn’t make a difference what the ethnic background of the person is or what crime was allegedly committed, it is not right that they are caused harm by the system and ignored by the media.