Last month, I spoke to you about the torture I endured in our local jail under the previous sheriff, and how our current sheriff has refused to properly clothe the inmates in his charge, which would stop such torture from being part of the routine.
In a recent interview on the Jefferson Exchange, Darius Rejali, author of Torture and Democracy, gave a 4-part definition of state torture that he used for his book: 1) A public official 2) inflicts physical pain 3) on a helpless captive 4) for state purposes.
This is what happened to me. Sheriff’s deputies put me in a cold concrete cell in a loose, short-sleeved jumpsuit without blanket or mattress and wouldn’t give me a blanket until I filled out their paperwork. It was physically painful, and the pain eventually caused me to give in to their demand, fulfilling the state purpose of breaking my will to exercise my right to remain silent.
He also gave a list of conditions within organizations within democracies that can lead to torture: 1) Two sets of rules; 2) No accountability for which set of rules is followed; 3) A distant, unreachable authority; 4) Secrecy.
Sheriff Gilbertson has admitted to this Board on TV that he has two sets of rules. In answer to my charge that the jail is not enforcing its rule that bedding must be left on bunks because the clothing is inadequate, he said that he has ordered his officers to allow wearing of blankets in the common areas of the pod.
Apparently, it doesn’t matter to the sheriff whether officers allow wearing of blankets or not. Not long ago, I hear, an inmate was told by an officer to keep her blanket on the bunk. She refused, and was not sanctioned. No word on whether the officer was punished.
So there is no apparent accountability-though we can’t be sure, because this sheriff is the sole spokesman for his department, and keeps the operation of his jail shrouded in secrecy.
Sheriff Gilbertson says that the clothing and temperatures at the jail conform to “state and national standards,” so he won’t issue long underwear-despite the fact that he admits, by his allowance of blanket wearing, that the clothing he provides is inadequate.
Here we have our “distant, unreachable authority.” We know nothing of these standards, and have no means to affect them. What matters to the people of this county is how we treat the people of this county-and this Board, not some distant committee setting standards, is responsible for overseeing that treatment.