The Special Hazards Of Jail For African-Americans

Five hundred dollars would have gotten Sandra Bland out of jail before she died. She and at least four other black women have died in jail since mid-July. They died before going to trial, before being convicted of any crime. Most could have left jail and gone home if they had enough money for bail.

You don’t have to be convicted of a crime to be victimized by a racist system 

Sandra Bland Tried to Bail Herself Out Just Before Her Death in Police Custody
By Mic

In a continuing plot twist surrounding the suspicious death of Sandra Bland in police custody on Monday, a local bail bondsman is now claiming the 28-year-old reached out to him in an attempt to post bail just before her alleged suicide.

“I talked to her when she first went to jail,” Texas bondsman Joe Booker told the Daily Beast. “I called her mother for her.” Bland’s bail was set for $5,000, according to the local Waller County Sheriff’s Office.

The reported bail attempt was only the latest in the string of suspicious revelations surroundings Bland’s death

The horrifying story of Jamycheal Mitchell, who starved to death in jail after stealing a Snickers
Jamycheal Mitchell ... very much alive The story of Jamycheal Mitchell should make national headlines. For a living, I wade through hundreds and hundreds of awful cases of police brutality, ...

On April 21, two days after his 24th birthday, Jamycheal Mitchell was arrested for stealing less than $5 worth of snacks from a Virginia 7-Eleven store. The snacks included a Snickers, a Mountain Dew, and a Zebra Cake, which altogether probably cost more like $3.50.

This a crime, no doubt, but Mitchell, according to court records, had already been diagnosed with severe mental illness and was ruled permanently disabled and unfit for work because of it. This was a lifelong battle for him.

At that very point, a special designation should’ve been given to his case and he should’ve either been taken home and released to his family or immediately taken to a mental health facility. Again, we’re talking about $3.50 of snacks taken by a hungry mentally ill man who is unable to work.

The very opposite of this happened, though. Mitchell, who at the time of his arrest stood 6 foot, 3 inches, and weighed approximately 185 pounds, was taken to the city jail.

For three weeks he languished there, all for those damn snacks, until he was transferred across town to the regional jail on May 11. There, he languished, at great expense to taxpayers, for ten more days until he finally saw a judge.

“Judge Morton Whitlow ruled Mitchell was not competent to stand trial and ordered that he be transferred to Eastern State hospital, a state-run mental health facility in Williamsburg, for treatment.”

Again, just to be clear, we’re talking about a mentally ill man not being able to stand trial for stealing snacks.

Having already spent a month between two jails, and declared unfit for trial because of his mental illness, we now know that what should’ve taken hours, days maybe, first turned into weeks, then into months.

For three more months, Mitchell, having already served a month in jail, languished away there.

I say languished because something awful happened to him between the time he entered jail and the day his body left there. His family has communicated that he appeared to weigh a little more than 100 pounds and was completely unrecognizable and emaciated.

His family believes he starved to death in jail.

“’The person I saw deceased was not even the same person.’ Adams, who is a registered nurse, said Mitchell had practically no muscle mass left by the time of his death.”

As you see, we have a huge gap in our story. Mitchell didn’t starve to death overnight, but died slowly, day by day, over a period of months while in jail. At any given point, any decision the jail could’ve made, including taking him to a public hospital or taking him back to his family, would’ve been exponentially better than what they chose to do by letting him rot to death there.

It’s hard to believe that not one mental health facility could’ve accepted him as a patient. At the point in which he had lost 15 or 20 or 40 pounds, it should’ve been realized that jailers were facing a dire emergency in need of immediate medical attention, but this didn’t happen and we don’t need to guess why.

Jamycheal Mitchell was not treated like someone who truly mattered.

One detail this account leaves out: Mitchell’s bail was set at $3,000.

For an alleged $3.50 theft.

The man who was deemed incompetent to stand trial for petty theft was, at the same time, somehow such a conniving menace to society that his family would have had to pay three grand to get him out of jail.

(Unfortunately, this sort of obscenely disproportionate bail requirement is not a fluke. Read more on that here and here.)