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Denver magistrate separates mother from breastfeeding infant. Jail refuses pump, as they do common decency.


DENVER, COLORADO- A heartbreaking scene unfolded yesterday when Denver Magistrate Kate Boland decided to impose a $10,000 bond on a domestic violence detainee, against the recommendations of the husband (victim), the public defender, and even the city prosecutor, who all wanted the 35-yr-old mother of five released on personal recognizance. Most critical, no consideration was paid to the family’s month-old infant who is breastfeeding. Neither by Boland, nor the downtown detention center, known for its systemic disrespect for the rights and needs of its inmates.

You might not care how poorly criminals or their children are treated, but the inmates of jails are suspects, not convicts. They are unconvicted detainees held on some officer’s probable cause. They’re suspected of a crime, but have a right to a fair trial (under the 6th Amendment) and a right not to be punished before conviction (under the 14th). Depending on who calls 911, they could be YOU.

For those reasons (and the Golden Rule and the social contract), jails have to show a semblance of concern for the still innocent lives disrupted in their care. Denver’s Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center has a famously outlandish record in that regard. Marvin Booker and Michael Marshall are two well known extremes to which Denver sheriffs deputies have disrespected inmates’ lives. A rare survivor, Jamal Hunter, was awarded $3.25 million for beatings he received there. Unfortunately his settlement was contingent on burying the evidence of broader misconduct, thanks Jamal.

Those cases have generated reviews and reforms, but abuses persist. Isn’t it amazing that after repeated court-ordered overhauls, the public could still be told “the detention cenver has no protocols for breastfeeding mothers.”

Magistrate Boland made no allowance for the accused mother to maintain her feedings. After the morning hearing, friends learned the jail didn’t care to accomodate the mother either. That afternoon Baby Thomas became ill and began vomiting, so the father brought the baby to the visitor’s lobby hoping emergency visits could be arranged. The jail said no, though after some persuading, a sergeant agreed to convey a breastpump to the mother if one was supplied. A device was purchased and submitted, but the jail recinded their offer. This time a charge nurse named “Monica” explained she was under no obligation to comply, that she’d called her boss at Denver General who confirmed it. Without a court order, she said, the jail had no further responsibility.

By now activists with Denver Court Support were agitating online about the plight of Baby Thomas. The jail was innundated with telephone calls. The sheriffs cleared the public lobby, cancelled visitations, and put the facility in lockdown in anticipation of a rally.

Nevermind feeding Baby Thomas, release his mother immediately. Activists had raised the monies needed to hire a bondsman to post the bond. The jail was urged to expedite the mother’s release once bond was posted.

Shouldn’t inmates be release when they’ve paid to have their freedom? This is where the Van Cise-Simonet’s disrespect is arbitrary, punitive, and universal. Time to process inmates, either intake or release, takes forever, or just feels like it. Denver’s Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center likes to take a MINIMUM of 11 HOURS for these proceedures.

The pretext for the first delay is “for fingerprints to clear”. Enough time for INTERPOL in Timbuktu to review your prints and give the all clear, because they can’t be expected to be standing at the fax machine at all hours of the day, the jailers explain.

That step is required before a bond can be posted. Once a bond is paid, an inmate’s release requires a second computer delay. Also commonly at least eleven hours. The jailers attribute that wait to “that’s how long the system takes.”

On occasion we’ve seen public pressure result in a shortening of the release time. The upshot is the the release time appears to be at the jail’s whim. In the case of our breastfeeding mother the jail wouldn’t budge.

Worse for Baby Thomas’ mother, someone new to the bonding desk re-initiated the print clearing process instead of terminating it. She had to wait another interminable cycle.

The mother was taken into custody on Monday, her prints cleared by Tuesday morning. After the hearing in Room 2300, where the $10,000 bond was set, the bondsman tried to pay but learned he had to wait. The aforementioned administrative error meant it wouldn’t be before WEDNESDAY morning when her bond could be posted. Everyone is awaiting her release STILL.

As it stands, the mother is supposed to be fitted with an ankle bracelet by 8pm today. That will make it more than 48 hours that she’ll have been in custody. Mothers under stress withheld from feeding infants can stop lactating in less than that time.

The specifics of this domestic violence case are few. A neighbor called the police because the mother was seen holding a knife. The police chose to charge the mother and take her into custody. Who knows what the whole story is. The Denver Court Support activists didn’t get involved to solve the couple’s problems. Because that’s beside the point.

A child shouldn’t have to be harmed while authorities sort this out. An infant deprived of breastmilk suffers a calculable detriment which this magistrate and this jail could minimize, if they cared.

It’s hard to imagine anyone cares at Van Cise-Simonet. The jail is notorious for inedible food and poor health standards. The 23-hour lockdown is standard in all pods. Right now we hear that inmates are sleeping three to four in a cell which has only bunks for two. The one or two extra sleep on the concrete floor. This of course in addition to the litigated sadism of the Denver jailers.

Last night, outside the door of the jail, the Denver sheriffs deputies eventually re-admitted visitors into the lobby at 8pm, but kept the activists outside. Then deputies lined up and started warning the father’s friends to “calm down”. That warning and the posture of the deputies was recognizable to activists –and to many African Americans– as the precursor to the use of tasers. The only option was to leave.

UPDATE: The mother wasn’t able to rejoin her children until 10PM Wednesday. The baby is okay, although no doubt impacted by the interrupted feedings. At a public meeting the next evening to address law enforcement accountability to the community, activists told officials about what happened. They were told by the Denver Sheriff Patrick Firman that the jail DOES HAVE A POLICY to handle breastfeeding and that he was very sorry his employees didn’t know to tell the complainant.

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Comments

Comment from Jennifer   (IP: 73.165.216.175)
Time: September 20, 2017, 5:51 pm

Let this lady out… You scum bags

Comment from Brother Jonah   (IP: 75.71.247.180)
Time: September 20, 2017, 10:07 pm

The “correctional” health who assisted the Fremont Co Pigs in murdering John Walter were dissolved as a corporation. Wonder where their employees went? According to the legend Francis S. Key only waited until the next morning to bond out a prisoner on the “tyrannical” British Navy ship, mostly because they were tied up shelling the living dogshit out of Baltimore. To their credit they did allow the release. More to their credit they liberated every slave they came across. Such Tyranny! Maybe Denver pigs could take a lesson in ‘tyranny’ from the British Navy.

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