Feds charge New York prison official with denying help to dying inmate — RT USA
Terrence Pendergrass — a 49-year-old Rikers Island Department of Correction officer — was accused Monday afternoon of “deliberately ignoring the urgent medical needs” of an inmate at the facility, according to a statement released this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and charged with one count of deprivation of rights under the color of law. He was released from police custody after posting $250,000 bond and faces a 10-year maximum prison sentence if found guilty …
The inmate, 25-year-old robbery suspect Jason Echevarria, had been admitted to the MHAUII [Mental Health Assessment Unit] following multiple suicide attempts, the complaint reads, including one instance in which he swallowed a battery.
It’s time for state legislators and governors nationwide to cede that corrections departments cannot serve as a stand in for mental health facilities, and time for legislators and governors nationwide to cede that failing to provide mental health services leads to the commission of crimes, particularly since homelessness of itself is increasingly designated as a crime, with some locales going to the extreme of making it a crime to feed the homeless, or making it a crime to provide a blanket to a homeless person, or making it a crime to keep church doors open on frosty nights to shelter the homeless.
Public safety hinges on these admissions, corrections officers’ safety hinges on these admissions, sane budgets hinge on these admissions, and reestablishing a modicum of common decency hinges on these admissions … mental illness isn’t a life choice, it’s a medical condition, and its victims are as deserving of basic respect and emergency care as victims of car crashes.
The belligerence behind this sole superpower’s credo of “My country, right or wrong” is wearying the whole world: it’s time – right now – for it to evolve to “My country rights its wrongs.”
Belligerence costs more than circumspection and well-considered change, in cold hard cash, as well as warm blood and tears.
For no reason other than the profitability corporations enjoy from our remaining the “Incarceration Nation” and the related incomes legislators and governors enjoy from those corporations, Jason Echevarria’s father has to live with this:
An autopsy determined that the inmate suffered internal burns and scarring along his esophagus and his trachea after consuming the ammonium chloride soap-ball.
The soap-balls were distributed because of a sewage flood, a sewage flood that likely meant the whole unit should have been evacuated … the whole unit that would only have an ethical reason for existence if staffed entirely by mental health professionals.