Monday, May 12, 2008

Open Letter to Ron Sims

Ron Sims, King County Executive, is ultimately responsible for conditions at the King County Jail -- including the notorious Seattle jail, which was recently the target of a U.S. Justice Department investigation that turned up several serious problems.

I've heard Mr. Sims (a political activist of long standing) speak passionately and compellingly on a range of social justice issues. In his public speeches, Sims has always taken the side of the oppressed against the oppressor. Frankly, when the story of the Justice Department investigation broke I was flabbergasted. But what amazed me even more was Sims' response to the Justice Department's findings. Instead of frankly owning up to the problem and committing to do something about, Sims decided to circle the wagons around the bureaucracy, claiming that everything was OK at the jail and that prisoners' rights were being scrupulously observed.

Disheartened and disgusted, I decided to call Mr. Sims out on his failure to address the problems at the Seattle jail. Following is the text of an open letter I recently sent him asking how he intends to clean up the mess in his own house.

Note: In fairness to Mr. Sims, I will post any response he makes to the letter on this blog. In the meantime I encourage others to write similar letters.


* * * * * * * *
Ron Sims
King County Executive
701 Fifth Ave Suite 3210
Seattle WA 98104

May 8, 2008

Open Letter to RON SIMS
Re: Justice Department Report and King County Jail

Dear Mr. Sims,

Last November the United States Justice Department released the findings of a months-long investigation the department had done into conditions at the King County Jail facility in downtown Seattle. The investigation was launched following complaints from the county’s own ombudsman concerning health services provided to inmates and other problems at the jail.

Among the Justice Department’s most serious findings were:
· that inmates were being physically and sexually assaulted by guards.

· that there were many instances of unnecessary use of force by guards against inmates who were either already restrained or not violent.

· that medical care for inmates has been consistently substandard, leading to inmate deaths and outbreaks of hard-to-control
and highly infectious bacteria.
Perhaps the most worrisome finding was that allegations of inmate abuse or medical malfeasance were not properly investigated or followed up on. Not surprisingly, since November there have been several other news reports concerning the health situation at the jail.

Mr. Sims, these charges are both serious and credible. At the time the Justice Department report was released you said little. You did say, however, that you were convinced that King County is running a “constitutionally sound facility.” I’m not an expert in constitutional law, but failing to protect the health of people in your care doesn’t sound “constitutionally sound” to me. I would like to know what you are doing concretely to investigate and correct these ongoing problems at the jail.

I’ve often heard you speak passionately against those who would violate other people’s rights. Yet where is that passion now that an organization you are responsible for stands accused? Are you a righteous man? Or are you one of those who plucks motes out of other’s eyes while ignoring the beam in his own? Please think about the responsibility you bear with regard to the safety of jail inmates, and let me know what you’re doing to ensure that inmates are not harmed while they are in your custody. Thank you.


A Concerned King County Resident


Packratt said...

Hear about the class action suit filed against the KCCF for failing to treat detainees who contracted MRSA and failure to prevent MRSA?

Was in the Seattle PI just today.

I wish them luck, and thank you for keeping on top of this issue!

Koko said...

Ron Sims and all King County Representatives

Everyone especially the medical personnel at the King County jail house should be held accountable. The medical staff and correction officers treated him as if he was a parasite a harden criminal. They would have helped a dying dog more than they help Lynn. If he was having withdraws then they should provide him with some form of aid for the detox as well. Jail is not for people with drug additions. Drug facilities are- and drug facilities should be open and available for drug addicts. Jails are for criminals who are a threat to society and our possessions. Now if the drug addict is a thief or some type of criminal than for definite lock them up in jail. Lynn was certainly not a thief or a criminal. He was an addict not a criminal.

Lynn was a polite decent humane person; In addition, he was raised properly to grow up and be a good moral person, which he was. He loved his family and all Gods creatures. He even said “thank you” to the officer for food as he was dying, and would not be able to eat. That is the type of person Lynn was- kind and polite. He was not a threat to anyone but himself. Lynn was not a criminal, or a menace to society, he simply had a drug problem. He did not steal to support his habit; Lynn received monthly checks from his fathers’ estate.

Lynn being an addict would know if he was just having withdraws. He lived through withdraws, he knows what they feel like, its not that he never tried quitting his vise or disease before. I helped him once go through his withdraws, and if he said to me “my liver feels like it exploded”, I would get him to the hospital as rapidly as I could. He was clean and sober for a month at my house in Portland, but he required more help, then I could provide him. Lynn didn’t want to be a junkie drug addict he just was one-he said there was something deep down inside him that was lonely and sad. The pain that only drugs could and would numb... The Pain could have been his sisters’ homicide or his dads unexpected passing, I don’t know, and now we will never know.

Everyone at that jail that had contact with Lynn should be ashamed of your selves. You are all truly evil, and are murderers. You have no clue on how to treat people, Lynn was not a demanding person all that time he was in tremendous pain and you people could have cared less and let him die. How can any of you live with yourselves? You are murderers, because if Lynn was home or anywhere else he could and would have got help, he needed and would not of died.

Lynn was 47years old. My Aunt now has lost two of her three children. Both were murdered as far as I’m concerned. The State of Washington and a Jealous Psychopath, and the State of Washington only locked up the jealous psychopath murderer for 4 maybe 5yrs. I just can’t believe that, no justice for my Aunt what so ever... The State of Washington is negligent twice in my book, and my cousins are no longer with her or us and that is just a crying shame.

Your sadness, loneliness and pain are now gone, and ours will now begin, I miss you Lenny…I hope your Mom gets the justice she deserves…I will try and be there for her when the court case begins…..your loving cousin Koko. Well, Lenny it looks as if your Mother won’t get any justice once again. The State government is too corrupt.