Add your voice to this fight. Tell Harrison County officials to stop abusing children.
Today we filed suit to stop the horrible abuse of children at a Mississippi detention center, where they are confined in filthy, bug-infested cells for 23 hours a day with no adequate mental health or education services.
Our client, D.W., is a 17-year-old African-American youth who endured a brutal physical assault by guards who slammed his face into a concrete floor. After a week at the facility, he tried to hang himself with a bed sheet. But rather than provide him counseling, guards harassed and taunted him — telling him his mother no longer cared and would not visit him again.
The children held at the Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center in Biloxi are not hardened criminals. Most are accused of minor, nonviolent offenses and are simply awaiting court hearings.
This detention center is operated for profit by a company that has blocked civil rights investigators from inspecting the facility, even though they have a right under federal law to monitor the conditions there.
Dozens of other children describe their own nightmarish experiences. Because their cells were overcrowded, many slept on the floor next to dirty toilets. Infections were rampant. Guards were quick to use violence. One teen described conditions as "unbearable" and said children were treated like "dogs."
It's appalling that a private company is being allowed to profit from the misery and suffering of these children.
This lawsuit is just one of the strategies we're using to protect children from a broken system that would rather spend money on prisons than mental health services and education. Across the country, thousands of children — disproportionately black and many suffering from mental disabilities — are being needlessly incarcerated for petty offenses.
We're doing everything we can to stop this unconscionable abuse. You can help by adding your voice to this fight. Click here to tell Harrison County officials to stop abusing children. We'll make sure they get your message.
Thanks for your support.
Authored by Autumn Sandeen and cross posted from Pam's House Blend with full permission as we are working in unison to make public the Allen Ray Andrade murder trial of Angie Zapata.
Here's an excerpt of the video (Thanks to Louise for the transcription!):
Autumn Sandeen: Why is "In Session" here and this isn't the first trans case that "Court TV/ True TV In Session" has covered...
Beth Karas: Let me tell you, first of all, when we pick trials we look for issues, and this of course has a very important issue. The first time, perhaps, that a transgender victim, where the case is going to trial, where the victim is transgender, and hate crime is also part of the charges, in the accusatory instruments. Not an indictment, here it's the information.
So it's very important, in only 11 states and the District of Columbia as you know, include transgender status within their definition of orientation in their hate crime (legislation).
So it's important that people see this case, it's an educational trial for people who are not familiar with the transgender community, and I value that educational aspect of it.
Jumping ahead to more on hate as relates to this case, but the information regarding the case Beth discusses at this point of a custody battle in Clearwater FL is remarkably eye-opening... (Louise)
Autumn Sandeen: ...And this trial is going publically to be at least as educational. And again, we're talking hate crimes. This is... you know, just from the outside looking in, this is an interesting case.
Beth Karas: You know, people need to understand all of the issues. We need to understand the translifesty- way of life. I can be criticized for saying lifestyle.... way of life, okay. I appreciate it, I need to be criticized, I'm learning too. And that's the only way to really deal with the hate.
Autumn Sandeen: I just have one last question.
Friday I think we all noticed that the defense was using nothing but male terminology, you know, Angie's male name, and calling her "he" and "him" the entire way through the trial, whereas we had family members, in fact Stephanie Zapata was strongly correcting the defense attorney at every turn. "My sister Angie, you mean my sister, Angie, my sister" and just over and over, and both sides were...
What's your take on that little aspect of the (trial)?
Beth Karas: There's no question that that was the headline of the day on Friday. We knew it was coming and those family members and friends were well prepared to respond the opposite of the quesions being asked and I wrote about that on the CNN.com (site)-
Autumn Sandeen: And we're going to link to that, too.
Beth Karas: And, I mean, it's such an awful tragedy, this case, but it was almost comical and I don't mean that in a disrespectful way, the way that the attornies were just "Justin" and "he" and that "Angie" and "she", and "my sister", and it's like, come on people, let's get it together.
This was the defense's way, though, of illustrating the issue of the case. Because they of course are saying "provocation- rage-learning that the beautiful woman he was with, biologically a male", somehow justifies or mitigates something less of, uh- it doesn't justify the murder but it mitigates it from first degree down to second degree. So that's their way of reminding the jury of the issue in the case.
And here's the links that Beth mentioned:
- CNN Crime / TruTV In Session Video Feed of Angie Zapata Trial
- Beth Karas Facebook Page
- Beth Karas Facebook Fan Page
- In Session Blog
- Beth Karas Blog Entry: Defense spars with victim's family at trial
- Twitter: Beth Karas