Rheumatoid Arthritis and Jail-Discrimination in Action
Posted Sep 28 2008 11:19am
I believe I was detained in unnecessarily cruel conditions as a result of being discriminated against because of my physical disabilities.
Thursday, I turned myself in because I had two old minor traffic violation tickets. I decided to take care of it and scheduled an appointment to turn myself in because I could not afford to pay for them. I talked to an officer about what I needed to do and what I could bring. I explained that I was disabled and lived on a very small income, therefor I would have to sit the tickets out. I explained to him my concerns about my physical limitations and whether or not I would be able to handle it. I was assured that it would not be bad and that. He failed to tell me about quite a few things.
I was not informed ahead of time that I would not be allowed any medication. I missed three doses. On top of that, some of the medication they confiscated was supposed to be refrigerated. My sister had the foresight to call and check. It had been left out for nine hours. Ruined.
When we arrived at the jail they placed me in the Female Detox holding cell because it was the only one empty. I had to be in a cell alone because I need a cane to walk and they said it could be considered a weapon. Since the bench was just a few inches off the floor, I could not get on it. So they brought me a hard plastic chair.
The nature of my disability is severe rheumatoid arthritis. The worst joints affected are the hips and knees. I also have flexion contractures on my knees so my knees are permanently bent and it makes walking and standing extremely difficult. And it makes kneeling or crawling physically impossible.
They placed me in the cell and left me. I was placed in at about 3:30 p.m.
After about an hour of sitting in one place I started having severe pain in my hips. I tried adjusting my positions. I did not want to be a nuisance so I held off my complaints until about 7:30. I had noticed that all of the woman who came in about the same time as me had already been processed and taken to a cell hours before.
I pushed the buzzer and an officer came to the door and asked me what my problem was. I told him I couldn’t sit in a hard chair for this long, especially since I was not able to have my medication, which included pain pills and steroids to help the inflammation. The officer told me it was too bad that I had it better than the other inmates because I had a real chair. I asked him when I was going to be taken to a cell where I could recline and stretch my hips, and he told me that they didn’t have any room for me because I had to be placed alone. I asked if I could see the paramedic then so she could explian to them the nature of my pain. He shrugged his shoulders and walked off. Half an hour later I buzzed again, and he came up to the window and yelled at me for pushing it. I asked him if I could just call my family so they could come get me. I told him I hadn’t realized how much pain I would have to be in.
I never asked for special treatment. I want that understood. I only wanted to be processed like all of the other inmates. But since I was handicapped they did not take me out of the detaining cell. I had to sit in the chair for a total of eighteen hours in severe pain. I tried holding myself up off my hips using my arms. At one point I let myself fall to the concrete floor so I could at least stretch my joints. A couple hours later I pushed the call button because I couldn’t get up off the floor. The woman who answered the box sighed angrily and cussed at me. They helped me back in the chair and told me not to get in the floor anymore. I told them I had been sitting in the chair for fifteen hours and was in alot of pain.
Throughout the afternoon, night and morning I asked for a doctor four times and was denied. I was denied all medication(including the non-narcotics). I asked to see the judge in the morning and they would not allow me to do that either. My sister was able to post bail and I was allowed to get out of the chair at 9:30 the next morning.
I was never processed like every other female to come through the jail. I know it was because I was disabled. If I wasn’t I would have been processed like everyone else and allowed to sit without pain. No matter how I tried to explain to the two officers about how much I was suffering, all I was met with was sneers and disdainful comments.
I just think that it was an excessive punishment for an expired car tag. I think it was excessive to place a person with a disease that attacks joints in a hard chair for eighteen hours with no medication. I was also told that if no one came to bail me out I would have had to stay in that same cell, in the same chair, until Saturday morning.
I forfeited the eighteen hours I spent in jail because I cant even imagine how bad I would feel then. I’m already in so much pain right now that I cant even sit.
If they didn’t have room for me, they should have released me. I turned myself in.
So to sum up:
-I was denied the right to see the judge when he came in.
-I was denied the right to see a paramedic
-I was not told my medication would be confiscated
- Because I was disabled, I was not allowed to be processed like everyone else. Because I was disabled I had to stay in extremely painful conditions, while I watched person after person be processed.
Apparently, this is how people with disabilities are treated. Not as equals, but as inconveniences, that are too bothersome to be dealt with.
I have filed a complaint with the Texas Commission of Jail Standards,
The Federal Department of Justice,
and my congressman,
I know nothing will come of it though. These things never do.