Monday, November 17, 2008
Grievance filed by Grapski, Fellow Inmates
COPY OF GENERAL GRIEVANCE FOR DENIAL OF FUNDAMENTAL CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE ALACHUA COUNTY JAIL (accompanied by individual grievances filed as public records).
THIS IS A GENERAL FORMAL GRIEVANCE pursuant to Inmate Rules and Regulations Section J, 3, filed individually and collectively, on behalf of the rights and interests of all inmates of the Alachua County Jail, and specifically of all those housed in Unit 3W, during the months of October and November, 2008, for routine, systematic, and general denial of civil rights concerning, in particular but not exclusively, denial of fundamental rights in the following four areas: 1) Housing conditions, in particular, dangerous and unhealthy temperatures; 2) Food and nutrition, in particular, a general denial of food of sufficient quality and quantity for nutritional requirements, and particular abuses significantly below even minimal nutritional guidelines; 3) Fundamental and urgent medical care, in general, the refusal to respond to requests for medical attention, the refusal to respond to inmate requests for medical care in a timely fashion, and the denial of medical care in general; 4) Denial of right to counsel, in particular the systematic and routine denial of access to communication with the public defender, and failure of the public defender to meet with and provide counsel and prepare a defense for incarcerated individuals accused but not adjudicated guilty.
Individually, the general denial of rights in any one of these four areas is an abuse and denial of the most basic and fundamental civil rights, but the collective and systematic nature in each of these four areas, as well as the effect of the combination of abuses in all four areas demonstrates a lack of respect and care, systematically for the health, safety and welfare of those detained against their will, which generally applies only to those who cannot afford private legal counsel and/or bond, and a systematic failure of the Alachua County Jail, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, and Alachua County to provide its statutorily and constitutionally (Florida and United States) obligations, contributing to real harm systematically initiated against the individuals, and general population, housed in the Alachua County Jail and thus in violation of their rights and the duties of care and legal obligations of those institutions and officials.
Below are documented only a sample of the unlawful and intolerable conditions these individuals, and this class of individuals, has been subjected to over the past months.
1) GENERAL LIVING CONDITIONS: TEMPERATURE:
For approximately two weeks the persons housed in Unit 3W of the Alachua County Jail have raised concerns and complaints regarding the excessively cold temperatures, caused by the air conditioning, subjecting them to excessive cold throughout the day and night. On several occasions more than one individual has brought a complaint to the officer in charge of the pod, the supervising officer, and others regarding the excessive cold temperature. Additionally, several of the inmates have displayed and suffered symptoms of illness directly related to this housing condition, including but not limited to sore throat, sneezing, headaches, muscle and body aches, inflated temperatures,coughing, congestion, running nose, and other general symptoms of cold related illness. Adding insult to injury requests for medical care (separately referenced below) have been routinely, regularly, and systematically disregarded and thus denied. On Thursday November 6th a formal grievance was filed after punitive action was taken against those who again sought to raise this issue and the said grievance, and only as a result thereof was an action, although insufficient to cease the harm, taken. That night the sergeant approved the release of a second blanket to all inmates housed in 3W. The following day, however, inmates were ordered not to have those blankets in the day room, effectively forcing the unit to remain bed-ridden for 24 hours in order to seek refuge from the intolerable and inhumane cold temperatures. When officers conducted routine inspections they wore a jacket and would respond to the temperatures by holding their hands within their jacket sleeves to endure the cold temperatures during the brief period of inspection. Inmates have been told that there is nothing that can be done about the condition of temperature, including that there is no reason to file a grievance, there is no one who will hear the grievance, and there is no one who can address said grievances, and in addition the specific claim that this problem cannot be solved until a new jail is constructed. On the evening of November 9th the officer in charge, having spent approximately five to ten minutes within 3W, inquired as to the excessive cold and the duration of this condition. That officer recognized immediately that this was a dangerous condition and affected the health, welfare and safety of the inmates. The officer brought this matter, of his own volition, to the attention of the supervising sergeant. Later that night, as a result of the concern raised by this officer, a third blanket was issued to each of the persons housed within 3W as a temporary means to alleviate the negative conditions. This condition constitutes a significant harm and denial of fundamental civil rights of those housed within the Alachua County Jail, the Sheriff's Office, and the Alachua County government. Persons housed in this facility are primarily detainees who have not been convicted of the allegations for which they are detained.
2) GENERAL LIVING CONDITIONS: FOOD AND NUTRITION:
In general, the food provided - and indeed charged to the inmates without their consent - is generally unsatisfactory. No regard is given to particular dietary requirements of inmates, and the quality of the food is below that ordinary individuals would expect to be given to their pets, let alone family members. The quality of the food, in addition to the clear intent of the quality to be unattractive, unappetizing and unappealing, is clearly intended to give absolute minimums of dietary nutritional value, and appears calculated with the intent of maintaining a regular condition of ongoing hunger, throughout a 24 hour period, to be suffered by the individual inmates. Adding insult to injury, there have been days when the quality of food, on its face, was far below that which is statutorily mandated to be provided. This condition reached the height of its abuse ny midday November 9th, when less than one spoonful of what appeared to be chicken salad was provided to each individual. This cam with its routine complement of four slices of plain white bread, known to have minimal nutritional value, and a single slice of "American cheese" product, also known to have minimal nutritional value. This abuse was so extreme that similar complaints were heard from unit 2W and all inmates within 3W asked to refuse acceptance of their tray and have it returned, as a unit, to the kitchen. Initial response to this, as well as to the desire to file a collective formal grievance, as well as individual grievances, was met with the position that nothing could or would be done respecting this abuse and that the inmates should simply accept their fate and the intolerable conditions. It was a direct result of this incident that the entire unit demanded to be given a form to file a grievance and upon which this general statement is being made and attached for the formal record and as a public record which must be maintained and produced upon request under Florida's Constitution, Article I, Section 25, and Florida's Public Records Law, Chapter 119 Florida Statutes. The general pattern of abuse, and its extreme as witnessed and experienced on November 9th, constitutes a serious and general violation of the fundamental civil rights of those housed against their will within the Alachua County Jail, violating those rights protected both under Florida's and the United States Constitution, and constituting violations of the statutorily imposed duties and obligations established by Florida Statutes.
3) DENIAL OF BASIC AND EMERGENCY/URGENT MEDICAL CARE:
Throughout the months of October and November 2008 the individuals housed within Unit 3W of the Alachua County Jail have, on numerous and repeated occasions, requested medical care only to be ignored and denied such care. In fact there have been numerous occasions when, upon bringing the issue to the attention of the officer in charge, that officer has brought the matter to the attention of the medical staff, yet no action has been taken. Additionally several several of the individuals housed have filed formal documents requesting medical care only to have those documents ignored and care denied. There are several requests for care filed two and three weeks prior to this grievance which remain unfulfilled and indeed unaddressed. The issues of medical care, and its denial, are only exacerbated by the other general conditions violative of fundamental civil rights and contributing directly to the harm of these individual citizens, of health, welfare and safety - as detailed in complaint issues 1 and 3 above regarding intolerable environmental conditions (excessive cold) and denial of sufficient nutrition. In response to raising the issue of filing grievances regarding the denial of health care inmates have been instructed explicitly that the submission of repeat requests for care, in writing, would not result in service, but instead would be met by punitive reaction and explicitly that persons submitting repeated requests, identical to those outstanding for several weeks, would only be moved to the back of the queue. It has also been stated to inmates that the medical staff is not equipped to handle their medical needs and that this has been the cause of the delay and denial of medical care on a routine basis. Denial of fundamental medical care, both for urgent and acute problems, as well as general and/or chronic conditions, constitutes a denial of fundamental and basic civil rights of the most grievous nature. This, accompanied by the fact and factors associated with the other systematic denial of civil rights affecting inmate health, safety and welfare (in being subjected toi conditions of extreme cold for lengthy durations and denial of fundamental nutrition) constitute a violation of the most extreme nature and requiring immediate attention and rectification.
4) SYSTEMATIC DENIAL OF THE RIGHT TO COUNSEL:
In general, and with minor exceptions of particular individual members of the public defenders office, inmates of the Alachua County Jail, accused but not convicted, are being denied their most basic and fundamental right to be represented by counsel and to receive a fair trial. Although each pod/unit within the Alachua County Jail is given a sheet - also provide to each person assigned a public defender by the courts - detailing the instructions and phone numbers to contact their public defender via telephone, it is the routine practice of the public defender, Richard Parker, and his agency to refuse to answer calls from the jail - effectively denying the right to counsel. The few occasions when an inmate has been able to get through via the telephone the receptionist has been uncooperative and has denied access to the attorneys themselves. Furthermore the attorneys at the public defenders office are failing to communicate with and meet in person with those individuals incarcerated. It is well known by the staff, and is routinely stated by officers, social workers, case workers, and other jail officials and personnel that the public defender will only meet with their client for a brief period the day before or the day of their first court date, which often comes after thirty or more days of incarceration, during which no preparation for trial, discovery, or other necessary action required to be performed if one is to expect a fair trial and adequate representation, has been provided. In fact this practice is so routine that it is well known that certain persons employed as public defenders have never taken a single case to trial. It is apparent on its face, that the actions of the public defender are calculated with the prior determination that the individual accused is guilty, or will be treated as guilty, and with persons having spent what is regularly the basic time incarcerated as to be offered a deal in lieu of a fair trial will be pressured, as a result of the denial of legal counsel, to take a deal rather than having his day in court. Furthermore this general and systematic practice of the public defenders office, on its face, assures that inmates cannot avail themselves of their right to speedy trial without [illegible] the concommittant right to a fair trial, given the failure of counsel to take even the most minimal actions on behalf of their clients prior to the speedy trial period's commencement [?].
Furthermore the failure of the public defender to visit with or communicate with their incarcerated clients means that persons sit in jail without knowledge of the charges, the process, or their rights, in addition to other violations such as the inability to seek the posting of bond, the seeking of bond reduction, and other rights available to the non-incarcerated, and generally the class of persons who can [afford?] private counsel, [word illegible] and thus treats them, as a class, as fundamentally unequal. This is perhaps the most severe and significant violation of civil rights systematically suffered by those being incarcerated within the Alachua County Jail by the Office of the Alachua County Sheriff, and the Courts and State Attorney of the 8th Judicial Circuit, and clearly bears a causal relationship with the abuses, systematically imposed and generally unaddressed, as demonstrated in complaints One through Three above.
These complaints are submitted as a general and formal grievance per the fundamental denial of civil rights by the persons housed in Unit 3W of the Alachua County Jail during the months of October and November 2008. Submitted this day, November 9th 2008 by the undersigned occupants of Unit 3W Alachua County Jail.
Richard A. Jones
David R. Paulk
Anthony ? [illegible]
Greg A. Faretta