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When PC isn’t “Politically Correct”

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 9 months ago

When PC isn’t “Politically Correct”


Perhaps one of the most enlightening aspects of my incarceration in Dublin are the jailhouse stories I have been hearing from my fellow prisoners — many are tragic, some are inspiring, but almost all of them are fascinating.


One of the more newsworthy reports that have recently been brought to my attention is related to the Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose. According to a confidential source, whom we will refer to as Jose Enriquez, while he was held at the San Jose facility he was held in P.C. without just cause.


About now, you might be asking yourself, “What does P.C. mean?” Well, in this context P.C. stands for protective custody and it is customarily reserved for inmates who would be susceptible to retaliation: child molesters, snitches, and in the case of Mr. Enriquez, an alleged association with the Sureños. According to Enriquez, the Santa Clara County Jail is the only facility which isolates Sureños and places them in protective custody; obviously I am unable to confirm this while incarcerated.


Despite the fact that Enriquez did not assert that his safety would be jeopardized by being placed in the general population and, despite the fact that he reportedly does not have a history of violent interactions with rival Norteños who were place in the general population, Mr. Enriquez was placed in isolation under the pretense of “protective custody.” According to Enriquez, this is standard-operating-procedure at the Santa Clara County Jail.


In our discussions surrounding this matter, it was explained to me how this constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and it is clearly a biased and unfair policy. First off, Norteños are apparently admiteed into the general population; whereas the Sureños are not. Secondly, by being placed in protective custody, these prisoners are denied the benefits entitled to the general population including recreation, education and religious services.


In effect, the institution is tacetly supporting one association while punishing another rival association. The first amendment establishes the rights of free association, and it does not make an explicit exception for those affiliated in a gang.


Although it is probably true that this policy has been established in an effort to prevent violence between rival inmates, and this concern may be legitimate, the policy does not treat those with alleged gang associations equally and should therefore be revised appropriately.


When I asked Enriquez about how we would solve this dillema, he suggested placing inmates in solitary confinement only hafter they have demonstrated that they are a problem; barring that, Enriquez suggested establishing separate units for prisoner groups which are liable to conflict with each other.


Both of these suggestions seem to be valid and possible approaches to this issue, and I hope to see Santa Clara County adopt a policy which is fair to all of its inmates.

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