In a country that puts more people per capita in prison than any other on the planet, stories like this one continue to highlight what a complete failure our nation’s criminal justice system is.
A mentally ill, homeless veteran charged with trespassing was basically left to die at New York City’s Rikers Island in a stifling hot jail cell where temps reached over 100 degrees last month.
Fifty-six-year-old former Marine Jerome Murdough, a man diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was arrested last month after he was found sleeping in a stairwell in a Harlem public housing project. Instead of getting the man some help, New York’s finest thought it much more appropriate to arrest him, where the system imparted “justice” by seeing fit to stick him with a $2,500 bail he obviously could not afford to pay before finally hauling him off to Rikers Island and placing him in a special observation unit for prisoners with mental illnesses.
It goes without saying they did not do a very good job of observing Murdough.
In a place where according to weather forecasts, the temperatures never got much higher than the low 50s last month, a man was allowed to bake to death in a hot little room.
Instead of taking responsibility for being part of a system that has failed at every conceivable level possible to the point that a life was needlessly lost, the “officials” involved are reportedly making various excuses that simply aren’t good enough.
They claim the extreme heat was due to an equipment malfunction. They claim the anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medications Murdough was taking made him more susceptible to heat. The deceased vet himself is even being blamed for not opening a small vent in the cell that would’ve allowed more air in like other inmates apparently do.
At least someone somewhere admitted Murdough should have been looked after more frequently, as standard procedure is every 15 minutes in that particular section of the prison and no one had actually checked on Murdough for at least four hours before he died.
The temperatures in the cell reportedly could have gone much hotter than the 100 degrees Murdough’s internal body temperature tested at when he was found, as the room had been closed off for hours before then.
Meanwhile, early autopsy reports suggest the cause of death was indeed heat stroke and/or extreme dehydration.
While Murdough may have trespassed, a misdemeanor charge, who is going to be held responsible for his DEATH? Because, you know, killing someone seems like a much more serious crime than unauthorized sleeping in a stairwell.
Then again, we now live in an upside down backwards police state where mentally ill poor people get tossed in the clink and left to die for petty crimes and elderly women get held without bond for feeding birds — but if you are filthy rich and come from an elite family crawling with pricey lawyers, you can apparently get away with admitting to raping your toddler-aged children without spending one single moment behind bars.
…welcome to the modern American criminal justice system.