Saturday, February 1, 2014

Justice Denied.

My massage therapist's father recently fell and broke his hip.  He had to have some surgery.  Fortunately, he came through it well so far.
Hearing about it reminded of a prisoner I used to see occasionally for hearings.  He had some kind of closed head injury, although it was evident from a dent in his skull.  He had balance issues, memory issues.  I told another hearing officer one time that if she talked to prisoner W. within a day or two of an incident, he would tell her the whole truth.  Later on, he would not remember the truth.  He was another prisoner who used to come in with statements that were clearly rehearsed because they did not fit the incident he was supposed to be describing.
The last time I saw him, he was actually a victim, not the one receiving the misconduct report.  He and another prisoner had argued in the day room about something inconsequential.  Both of them had wheelchairs, although they could walk.  Prisoner W. really did need one.  The other prisoner was almost certainly just a malingerer.  So this other prisoner got mad at W., leaped out of his wheel chair, charged across the room about ten or fifteen feet, and pushed W. hard enough to knock him out of his wheel chair onto the hard tile floor.  This prisoner, we'll call him M. for Malingerer, did the usual prisoner defense.  Got everyone he could find to list as a witness to say W. fell accidentally, or W. attacked M., or whatever might get M. off the hook.  Unfortunately for M.  he was a jerk who liked to bully other prisoners who could not fight back effectively.  And the other prisoners knew W. was not a bad guy.  He was a little off because of his neurological problems, but he didn't bother anyone.  All of the prisoner witnesses gave statements condemning M.  Naturally, I found him guilty of the assault.
As it turns out, he should have been prosecuted for Manslaughter.  When W. fell, he broke his hip.  The worst part is, he complained for several days about pain in his hip.  Apparently he was not sufficiently strident about it, because they just put him on the regular call out list for health care.  By the time they saw him, he was getting really sick, starting to lose weight, looking gray.  They discovered the fracture, but W. developed pneumonia, and after a few months, he died.  He could not overcome the trauma.
His only visitor was his sister, who did not come frequently, but did so on a regular basis.  She tried to watch out for him, although in a respectful way.  She got to know the unit counselors and called them from time to time with concerns about her brother.  She was always reasonable and respectful to staff, so they took care of W. if they could.  She did not ask for special treatment for him, she just brought things to staff attention that W. could not do for himself.  She took care of arranging for his funeral.  Afterwards, she sent a note of thanks to the staff for being kind to W.  I felt sad at the outcome of this incident.