The good news, kids, is that I won’t be asking you to burn down any buildings or engage in any other renegade behavior that might interrupt your regularly scheduled programming. The bad news is this isn’t going to be one of my more heavy-handed pieces, where I wield my pen—or, in this case, keyboard—with the grace and skill of a master swordsman, striking and pirouetting, or whatever it is those nerds with swords do.
This is more of a “Huh. That doesn’t sound right. Maybe someone should look into that. Oh, the people responsible for looking into that don’t like to admit there might be a reason to look into it? Huh,” sort of column.
Because maybe there is a reason. It sort of sounds like it to me.
Then again, maybe there isn’t. The best way of determining that would be to conduct an independent investigation to assess whether there is or is not a problem. But as I stated earlier in my paraphrase of this column’s message, the appropriate agencies haven’t expressed much interest in or intent to investigate.
You’re probably confused about what the hell I’m talking about, so I might as well explain—not in the interest of being a good columnist, which obviously doesn’t rate as very important to me, but mostly because I can’t stand when someone stares at me with a glazed, confused expression.
According to a press release sent by Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Tony Cipolla, the County Jail saw its fourth death in the last year or so on Jan. 11 after David Osborn Sr. was arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public and violating his probation. The cause of death hasn’t yet been released.
In January 2014, Rudy Joseph Silva died from H1N1. In March, Josey Richard Meche died from a methamphetamine-induced heart attack. In May, Timothy Richard Janowicz died at the county jail from “acute heroin toxicity.”
The one thing absent from the press release about the most recent death was a sense of alarm that four of the people in the Sheriff’s Office’s care have died in the last year. Long before Cipolla had the opportunity to weigh in on the matter, I predicted that no law enforcement official would acknowledge that there was a pattern. It might not be paisley, but four deaths in one year isn’t nothing.
Sure enough, Cipolla said it’s not a pattern, and based on the ties that guy wore back when he was at KSBY, if there’s one thing Tony Cipolla knows, it’s how to pick out a pattern.
And maybe he’s right. Sure there weren’t any deaths at the county jail in 2012 or 2013, but given that two of the deaths were linked to drugs and it’s notoriously difficult to keep drug addicts alive, maybe it was just a year of rotten luck.
I just wish I had something more solid to go on than “maybe.” Cipolla might be comfortable issuing decisive opinions based on what his boss tells him, but I’d prefer some kind of evidence to back it up—maybe even evidence based on an investigation conducted by the Sheriff’s Office to ensure that the inmates are receiving adequate medical treatment. And it might not be the worst idea to figure out how inmates at the county jail are able to enter the jail with a circulatory system’s worth of heroin without receiving enough attention to prevent death. Just a thought.
But why should we care about a bunch of criminals?
Mostly, I don’t want to have to worry about getting arrested for being drunk in public and become Fatality No. 5. A mishap like dying in a county jail would really mess up my 10-year plan. Also, I’d like to think that someone out there would miss me. Maybe not any of the people reading this, or any of the people who would never deign to read this filthy liberal rag, or any of the people who don’t even know this filthy liberal rag exists. But someone might. And for their sake, I’d like to ensure that the county jail is a safe place for myself and any other ne’er-do-well who might happen to wind up there, however briefly.
Also—and I know some of you will never agree on this point, and I really don’t care—they’re people. With rights. Rights that include not dying in a county jail after being arrested for being drunk in public. I feel like that’s one of those things I shouldn’t have to say, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from people-watching at the bar, it’s that when it comes to Homo sapiens you can’t take anything for granted. Especially the idea that if you’re arrested for something petty like being drunk in public, you’ll eventually walk out rather than being wheeled out.
Shredder totally has better style than Tony Cipolla. Send fancy ties to firstname.lastname@example.org.