For regular readers of this site, I’m sorry I’ve not been posting. Between writing a few legal filings for the 2nd district court of appeals case (about the illegal school closing task force meetings) and getting campaign things rolling, there hasn’t been time.
The trolls on Facebook have come out to bash me on my position on the Montgomery County Jail and what to do about it. They claim I’d have no jurisdiction over the jail which is technically not entirely true, since it’s within the city limits, and the city has a prosecutor who could charge the Corrections officers with committing crimes when they torture inmates. But, to be clear, the city used to have its own jail and if it comes down to that, we may have to do it again if the county and the sheriff can’t clean up their act.
When I saw the video of Amber Swink being pepper sprayed by then Sgt. Judith Sealey while Swink was locked down in a seven point restraint, it made me ill. This countries founders clearly understood that when man stops respecting man, the whole thing fails. It was their intent to create a different kind of country than the British had envisioned, a country of laws, where birthright didn’t exist. Where we believed in individual freedoms and protection from oppression.
I’ll quote the 8th amendment, it’s really short, clear, and to the point: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
We’re screwing that up royally in our jail. I swore an oath “to protect the Constitution, against all enemies foreign and domestic” when I enlisted in the Army. I meant it.
When I was made aware that not only was the Swink spraying not a one-time thing as Sheriff Phil “The Torturer” Plummer claimed, but frequent, and that if I could get footage of the intake of Charles Alexander Wade, I’d have a story, I did just that. That video showed repeated point blank pepper spraying by Sgt. John W. Eversole, with the tacit approval of at least 5 other officers. I thought that the story, handled and presented without bias, would at the minimum, force Plummer out of office, see a bunch of Correctional Officers either fired or charged with crimes, and the jail reformed. (as of today, this video has almost 40K views).
That was over 2 years ago- and nothing has changed. In the meantime, an impotent task force met, made recommendations, and a bunch of other inmates have died, been raped, been injured, and lawsuits have sprung up like dandelions in spring. Plummer is now a State Rep. Sealey got promoted to Captain while on admin leave and then filed for disability, etc. Instead of a huge public outcry- this unacceptable shit has acted more like fertilizer than something you bury to clean away the stench- those involved have actually done better for the most part.
The city pays the county for every inmate it puts in the county jail. Our first option is to send less folks there in the first place. Bail reform for minor crimes is a great first step toward that goal. Only people who are legitimately a menace to society would be considered for housing in that jail. Just remember, the former CO who was having sex with inmates– he’s not in any jail, despite being a menace and breaking laws that he knew well. We can try to contract with other counties as well, or build our own jail again- and compete directly with the Montgomery County Jail. If you’re wondering where the money would come from? Well, we seem to have plenty of cash to buy vacant buildings to give away, and to hand over to rich developers to revamp the Arcade again don’t we? But, if you really want an outside the box solution- we eliminate the Dayton Clerk of Courts and contract with the County Clerk of Courts to provide services and take the extra money spent on duplicating administrative services and spend it on something that we apparently can’t outsource to the county.
Now, I’m a huge believer in regionalization, and building a competing jail doesn’t sound like something a regional advocate would do. However, I’m pretty sure we can find a way to manage a jail differently and safer than the current approach.
First, recognizing that a large percentage of our inmates are in because of mental health issues, we can put pressure on the duopoly of Premier Health and Kettering Health to provide enough mental health beds in our community so that the jail doesn’t become a psych ward. If you want to know more about my experiences with emergency mental health intervention, you might want to read this: Mental health care gets a pink slip in Dayton
If they won’t, we’ll have to build our own. Unfortunately, Good Sam would have been a great place for a large scale community mental health hospital and addiction treatment center. Maybe, we’ll have to build our own on that site (I’m sorry, I wouldn’t ever allow their deed restriction against competition stand- they never paid a dime of property tax on that property).
There is also an option of building a new inexpensive jail, run like a boot camp. It would be totally voluntary, and provide for shorter sentences, but would resemble the WWII style barracks that were good enough for me in the Army. No private rooms, no private bathroom stalls, no unsupervised time alone- and you work like a dog all day, so you are too tired at night to fight. I could see inmates sorting recycled materials out of the waste stream, or cleaning up vacant lots, cutting grass, and doing community service projects. I don’t really care how much it costs to supervise them, because those are jobs we can give to people who are x-offenders who have turned their lives around.
And, back to the basic premise of legal recourse- it’s not OK when people in government abuse power. We have police departments to protect you, prosecutors to bring charges, and as a city commissioner, I won’t stand idly by while defenseless people are tortured while in custody. Unfortunately, no one in office now seems to think like me. That’s why I’m running, and why I’d like your support. You can volunteer, or donate, or ask for a sign at www.esrati.com/act or www.esrati.com/donate
I learned in the Army there are conventional and unconventional ways to win battles. In my business, advertising, I am paid to come up with creative solutions to business problems. There is never a reason to say that we can’t change things other than a lack of creative thought. Who would have thought that Rosa Parks could spark a revolution just by where she chose to sit? Sometimes, all it takes is someone challenging the status quo to institute change.