Let's play a game of "What if" ...
You all probably know the answer to this, but let's play anyway. What if you had a pen in which you crammed, oh, let's say, 12 dogs. Not an open air pen, by the way, but one with four walls and a ceiling. What if you treated those dogs badly? What if you kept them in their own filth and body waste and didn't clean that pen until you had to? What if you kept freezing conditions and didn't provide even the most basic means of staying warm?
And now, for our little game of "What if", what if someone called the police on you and reported you for keeping those helpless animals in such horrid conditions? Answer: You'd most likely go to jail for cruelty to animals. Your name would be in the news along with quotes from various pundits (including law enforcement) decrying your lack of humanity and cruelty to those poor, poor animals. And rightfully so.
Now it's time for our "Someone Left The Irony On" department. The irony here is that the people who are responsible for the barbaric treatment of those animals are in fact law enforcement themselves, our very own St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office. And even worse, the animals described above aren't dogs.
They're women who have been arrested and who were being held before booking in our version of a Turkish prison, the St. Tammany Parish Jail. And, sadly, we're not making this up. We wish we were. We're describing the hideous conditions in which women who have been arrested are being held.
Several of the women who were there have told us about the conditions in which they were held and they are, to say the least, appalling. A quick note before we proceed. We didn't hear this from just one or two disgruntled arrestees, which is what the STPSO will say in their defense. We heard this from several women from all walks of life, from habitual arrestee to students and housewives who had their first experience with our justice system in Jack Strain's jail. The information below was gathered from several women:
Over a dozen women were jammed into one receiving cell with one toilet for hours on end. There was no toilet paper and when they pounded on the glass demanding some, they were ignored or treated with hostility by the deputies on duty. Then they were ignored some more. One woman was on her menstrual cycle. The deputies were made aware of that but did not provide pads. The result was that the woman soiled her clothes and had to live with it.
Some women had been in holding for days without a shower. Combined with the above mentioned factors the stench in the cell was so strong that some vomited. It was not cleaned up for some time, adding to the misery. We were told it was, in fact, so bad that they had to pull the women out on a Friday morning and clean the cell because of the stench before the bonding commissioner would set bonds.
If they persisted with demands, the deputies would threaten them with delaying their booking or even with tasering them. If you annoy the deputies you go to the end of the line. The place is kept like an icebox for some reason. The women kept begging for blankets. It did no good. One woman was shaking to the point of near convulsions (we were told she was probably withdrawing from something) and couldn't get medical attention. When she finally did, it was ugly and hostile and she was told to stop faking and get over it. There is much more, but for the sake of time and space, let's move on. I'm sure you get the picture. And we need to make some points.
One woman was shaking to the point of near convulsions (we were told she was probably withdrawing from something) and couldn’t get medical attention. When she finally did it was ugly and hostile and she was told to stop faking and get over it. There is much more but for the sake of time and space let’s move on. I’m sure you get the picture. And we need to make some points. Those women had not been convicted of anything. Zero. Nada. They had been accused and arrested by a police officer. Just because you are accused doesn’t mean you actually did what you were accused of – that’s for the court to decide – yet the deputies in that holding facility treated those women far worse that they would be treated if they had actually been convicted and were serving time with the Department of Corrections. Those deputies seem to think it’s their job to punish. It’s not. Rights? You don’t need no steenking rights! So, we have a question for Sheriff Jack Strain. Jack, – or can we call you Boo-Boo? It’s somehow more…..fitting and it is after all your nickname. Anyway, Boo-Boo, how do you justify this? How do you explain that your deputies treat the women in your custody, the mothers and daughters of your constituents, in the words of one of the women we talked to, “like animals”? Oh but wait…we may have answered our own question. You don’t consider them your constituents, do you? You consider them your subjects. You’ve lost sight of the fact that you work for us. If indeed you ever really knew that. You think we’re the peasant rabble and you and your ilk are royalty in the Republic of St. Tammany. And as for your deputies who treat people that way – we have this to say. If we were petty people we would hope that someday they or one of their family members are put into the hands of wretched, miserable people who would treat them just like they treated those women we talked to. But we don’t think like that. We wouldn’t treat a dog that way. You can go to jail for that. - By the editorial staff of Louisiana United International, and we mean every damn word of it.