August 17, 2008
It was 1993-94. I was locked up in the citizens of Maricopa County's maximum security jail. The 6th floor of Madison St. Jail. I was housed in a pod of disciplinary problem detainees. Pre & post conviction inmates. Mentally ill detainees mixed in amongst them. I was both mentally ill and a disciplinary problem.
The smell of sweat, feces, urine, vomit and rotting food filled your nostrils as you entered the pod. Roaches were out of control and the place was a disgusting mess. Screams and cries of despair assaulted your ears. It must have been a terrifying event for Detainee Doe when he was escorted into the cell next to mine at 2 am. His tears made this evident.
I could hear his sobbing from next door. Many others could, too, judging by their yells. After about 30 minutes, all was silent. I drifted off to a restless sleep. I grew used to the feel of roaches crawling on me while sleeping and made makeshift earplugs to keep them out of my ears.
Around 5 am, I was awoken by the sound of keys rapping against my cell door. "Good morning. Would you like to shave?" The MCSO detention officer asked me. Returning her courtesy, I politely declined.
Coincidentally, I had known D.O. MacLemore since the 4th grade. Her son, Damian, was my best friend years earlier. She worked in MCSO jails then, too.
As Mrs. M. moved on to the next cell to offer the new guy a single blade disposable razor, I rinsed off my face and mouth. I had no soap or toothpaste, so rinsing had to do. Relaxing on my bunk after Mrs. M. left the pod, I waited for her to return to collect the razors and serve breakfast. I thought I'd heard a thump on the wall from my new neighbor, but dismissed it when I heard nothing more.
Thirty minutes later, Mrs. M.'s smiling face peeked in my cell's window and moved on to the next cell. Suddenly I heard her scream followed by a panicked radio call for help.
Moving to the window, I found Mrs. M. staring at a thick stream of blood coming from beneath new guy's door into the gutter in front of his cell. A look of horror and genuine concern on her face.
Minutes later, the pod was filled with D.O.s and a nurse. None of which entered the cell to possibly help.
Thirty more minutes passed until paramedics arrived with their gurney and medic boxes. Tracking blood everywhere, the paramedics worked on my new neighbor to no avail. He died.
I watched as they carted out the man's corpse. Face bloody and bruised, a 5 inch gash in his neck. An eyes-wide-open, blank stare on his face.
The man had cut his carotid artery with the razor blade. Dizzy from blood loss, he fell forward smashing his face on the sink, then backwards smacking the back of his head on the wall he shared with me. It was a painful, bloody death. I can still see the blood and his vacant stare.
This isn't the first suicide in MCSO jails. Far from it. It is the first one I saw which remains in my memory. It wasn't the last one either.
Contrary to Sheriff Arpaio's constant assertions, MCSO jails are not his. They belong to each and every Maricopa County taxpayer and citizen.
Arpaio has costed the taxpayers $11 million since 1995, just in payouts in wrongful death lawsuits.
Enough is enough! Arpaio must go! It's not in his jails that inmates have died, been beaten, lived in barbaric conditions and tortured. They're Maricopa County citizens' and taxpayers' jails!
5 days ago