Require Body Cams on all Guards in El Paso County Jail

Require Body Cams on all Guards in El Paso County Jail

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Jennifer McHenry started this petition to El Paso County Jail Bureau Chief Clif Northam and

Innocent Until Proven Guilty...?

This is a phrase which should protect those in custody. Many people who are arrested for even the smallest of infractions may have to sit in jail until their court dates, if they have no way to bail themselves out. If you have ever had to call El Paso County Jails to address problems or to check on a loved one, you'll know how hard it is to be taken seriously. This petition is designed not only to protect those awaiting court dates, but also those who are currently serving sentences. Inmates will tell you as they come out, that sometimes a guard will tell them that they have no rights - do not be fooled. Even if you have a loved one who is serving a sentence, they have the same basic human needs and rights that any human being living in the United States of America. Within Colorado Springs, El Paso County Jail has become notorious among incarcerated individuals as being one of the worst jails in the state - some even claiming that it is as bad as, if not worse, than prison.

What is causing these deaths and ongoing abuse?

Sadly, there is no simple answer. In Colorado Springs, it has become quite normal to see that another inmate has died for some reason while in custody. These reasons have varied anywhere from outright physical abuse, excessive force, and denial of necessary medication. 

Most recently, ten deputies were placed on administrative leave,due to the recent death Brian Clark, 44. A graphic video has been released to the media, showing Brian being brutally "restrained" by deputies. This incident was fortunately captured on standard cameras, but this is not always the case.

Last year, Terry West, 57, died two days after complaining of chest pain, and being told by a nurse to stretch it out. He was placed in the medical wing where deputies and staff claimed that he was "behaving erratically". Deputies again restrained the man, where he became unconscious. The claim was that they had restrained him to keep him from hurting himself. Those who knew Terry while incarcerated spoke to the media, and indicated that Terry was a feeble individual, and a man of God. The story made very little sense to him, and without the presence of body cams, we may never know the real truth surrounding deaths like these. 

Will Body Cams Help?

Ideally, we would hope that requiring guards to wear body cams in the presence of inmates at all times, would serve as a reminder to them that they must hold themselves accountable for their behavior. While this may not be the end-all, be-all solution to the expansive problems within the jail, it is the beginning of identifying the various problems plaguing the facility. 

Why am I writing this Petition?

I have been arrested once for a misdemeanor which was quickly dismissed, but my one night in jail in El Paso County was nothing short of harrowing. I am not simply taking the heresay of angry inmates wanting to stick it to the man; I am writing this petition because I was truly disturbed at some of the things I had seen, and one night was all it took.

After hearing a guard joke loudly about abusing Tramadol with her friends after her shift, and seeing the next guard telling a girl who was vomiting almost non-stop to "suck it up" when she begged for the medical staff. They locked the two girls in the cell and ignored them. I was taken to my court date and never saw the end of this situation, but I have seen first hand just how awful these people are to inmates.

Because I have fibromyalgia, I was placed in the open bunks where the deputies can keep an eye on sick and detoxing inmates. This resulted in my ability to see and hear everything that was going on, even when I "locked down" to my bunk. I was denied even Tylenol (after being told by the medical staff that this should be no problem). I would have had to make a request on their computer system, and was told that I might have to wait up to two weeks, even just for Tylenol. 

Two weeks, for Tylenol. Needless to say, I went home, took my medication and maybe slept for two days solid. I was mortified and humiliated, but remained complacent. As the news began reporting more deaths within the jail, my vigor became renewed.

A friend told me about Terry West before he died - the two were incarcerated in the same cell block together. He described Terry as inspiring and even a little wise. He would scoot around in a wheelchair while they weren't locked down, because he was incredibly feeble. When my boyfriend read the news about Terry, he was devastated and even went out of his way to reach out to a reporter to tell them that the story didn't seem right. Honestly, how convenient is it that his erratic behavior began after he was moved to the medical wing? 

The death of Terry West and more recently, Brian Clark, sound the signal that change must happen now. We must demand that guards who are in the presence of inmates are required to wear body cams at all times. We demand that these guards are forced to be held accountable for their actions, and that if needed, they are given the same training as police officers, so that they may deescalate a situation without using physical violence or abuse of power.

We are calling upon Bureau Chief Clif Northam, Staff Assistant Michelle Lundstedt, and even our senator Chris Bennet and Congressman Doug Lamborn, to do what is necessary to make these changes within the Colorado Springs Correctional Facilities, so that we do not lose any more human lives! 

Sign the petition today, and share your story - you may remain anonymous, but adding your names will help this petition to be taken much more seriously. 

Once our goal is reached, the petition will be hand delivered to El Paso County Jail. This way, it cannot be simply dismissed and pushed aside. We will make sure that these people hear our voices and know that we will no longer endure the pain of our loved ones while incarcerated any longer. T

Thank you for caring!

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!