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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sheriff Morgan: Segregation Complaint: 'One lonely black guy'


Sheriff Morgan is a funny guy, in an unintentional way.  He thinks Pensacola is filled with idiots who will believe anything he says because, well, he's the Sheriff and he says so.  And he's got all kinds of imaginary data from his imaginary study conducted by his imaginary contractor who came up with his imaginary finding that the "Super Predator" thesis is true.  So there.

Attorney General Holder sent his investigators from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the Escambia County Jail to fix problems that had been festering for years or decades before the Sheriff assumed control of the Jail.  Sheriff Morgan gets 'attaboys' from the DOJ for improving conditions, but things are still very, very bad.  In fact, conditions violated the Constitution of the United States.

Sheriff Morgan wants you to believe that the segregation charge is based on an interview of one Black inmate with a DOJ investigator.  On the videotape (below) here is how the Sheriff of Escambia tried to explain away the existence of a decades-long policy that persisted for four years while he ran the jail: "In this last interview with the Department of Justice investigators one of our black inmates made the observation that he would like white inmates to be on his floor.  And that is what came out as segregation at the Escambia County Jail."

Here is how that interview may have sounded:

Lonely Black Guy in Jail:

"You know, I've been sitting here thinking to myself.  And, you know what?  I'm lonely.  I wish there were more white prisoners so I wouldn't feel so lonely.  Nothing would make me happier than to wake up in this rotten prison with inadequate medical care, inadequate psychological counseling, eating cold food, being harassed by the guards, with few cleaning utensils and equipment to keep my space sanitary, worried about getting my head thumped over nothing, than to see a bunch of white smiling faces grinning at me in the morning.  You know, without my white homeboys, it just doesn't feel like, you know, home."

DOJ Investigator to Lonely Black Guy in Jail:

"Well, this decades-long segregation must stop immediately.  If there is anything AG Holder does not like to read about with his morning coffee is lonely brothers.  I've got to put this in my report: 'One Black brother complained of being lonely without a white smiling cellmate.'  We'll get you a white smiling prison cellmate as soon as this report is edited fifteen times with all the editors changing 'lonely' to 'sad' to 'unloved' to 'unwanted' to 'outcast' to 'lonely' and the Jail Findings letter is approved by twelve lawyers in four departments who want to make sure that it is unconstitutional not to have a white smiling cellmate.  We'll forget about how the Klan ran the jail for decades.  Your loneliness beats that, hands down.  Oh yes, the AG is going to be agitated about your lonely plight.  Nothing gets him to furrow his brows and make that 'I'm really serious look--you know the Ferguson one'--than reading about lonesome brothers.  No sir.  That really gets his goat."

That, basically, is what Sheriff Morgan wants you to believe happened.

The Truth Is Out There:  Read the DOJ Report, Sheriff

The U.S. Department of Justice released its Jail Findings Letter on May 22, 2013, stating that "conditions there still routinely violate the constitutional rights of prisoners.  Specifically, we find that obvious and known deficiencies at the Facility continue to subject prisoners to excessive risk of assault by other prisoners and to inadequate mental health care.  We also find that the Jail's decades-long unwritten policy of designating some of its housing units as only for black prisoners violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause."

The Jail Findings letter went on to state, that while under-manning contributed to the violence between prisoners, "The Jail's decades-long practice of housing some prisoners in housing units designated as only for black prisoners ('black-only pods') discriminates against African-Americans on the basis of their race, contributes to prisoner perceptions that the Jail favors white prisoners and over black prisoners, and makes the Facility less safe by fanning racial tensions between prisoners."

Now, with Sheriff Morgan, if you do not show him actually moving his lips to say the words you quote him as saying, his retort is, "I was quoted out of context."  He never states what that context was that would show him a better light.  So, to show the "context" and the Sheriff's lips moving and sound coming from the Sheriff that forms, you know, actual words and sentences, here is the quote (edited) and the video.  The sentence I left out was that the ACLU and other civil rights organizations with badges had full access to the Jail, day or night, and could go wherever they wanted and see what they wanted to see.  But, it is in the video version.

In a video response to the residents of Escambia County, Sheriff David 'Data' Morgan, blatantly lied to them about the findings of the Department of Justice report.  At roughly the 22:55 mark, the Sheriff states:

"You read in the paper [the Pensacola News Journal] about one instance of segregation in the Escambia County Jail, and that was the focus.  So let me explain to you what that instance of segregation was.  In the sixth and final visit from the Department of Justice before they rendered their final report they did inmate interviews.  Now, they did them with all other five also and at no time was any issue of segregation ever raised.  I will also tell you that the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union], and the local Movement for Change all were given badges to the Escambia County Jail upon my assuming office....In four and one-half years we never had a suit filed against us by the ACLU or any other civil rights organizations alleging segregation in the Escambia County Jail.  In this last interview with the Department of Justice investigators one of our black inmates made the observation that he would like white inmates to be on his floor.  And that is what came out as segregation at the Escambia County Jail."

Here is what the Department of Justice's report states on page 11:

"The use of black-only pods also contributes to the level of violence.  The Facility's decades-long, unwritten policy of housing many of its black prisoners in black-only pods creates the impression in the minds of both black and white prisoners alike that the Jail is biased against black prisoners.  When we spoke to black prisoners, many expressed tremendous anger that the Jail segregates some of its black prisoners into black-only pods.  All of the prisoners we spoke to housed in the black-only pods and many of the white and black prisoners we spoke to housed in other pods alleged that correctional officers mistreat those in black-only pods.  Those allegations include the following: (1) correctional officers order more pod-wide lock downs of the black-only pods than the other pods; (2) prisoners in the black-only pods routinely receive cold food because correctional officers consistently serve food to the prisoners in the black-only pods last; (3) correctional officers provide those in the black-only pods with fewer cleaning materials and implements to keep their cells and common area clean; and, (4) the Jail sometimes overrides its own classification system by housing prisoners in pods too dangerous for their security levels when making housing placements into black-only pods."

The DOJ report did not offer an opinion as to whether these four allegations were true.  But, the allegations are certainly consistent with the expected policy outcome of a Sheriff believing that all young Black males are "Super Predators."  If these young Black men are animals, the theory goes, then treat them like animals.

But, Sheriff Morgan's contention that the Department of Justice based its claim of a "decades-long, unwritten policy" of segregated prisoner housing on the opinion of one Black inmate being lonely is ludicrous.  While it may appear that the Sheriff's attachment to reality appears at times to be tenuous, the truth is that he will go to nearly any length to distort reality in order to make himself come out as the persecuted and the triumphant.

Although the Department of Justice report did praise the Sheriff and his staff for improvements during the time he had assumed control of the Jail, the supposedly data-driven Sheriff who tries to portray himself as a modern sheriff--hence his emphasis on data and science--saw absolutely nothing wrong with the white supremacist model at the Jail.

After all, a "decades-long" policy certainly stretches back to the final decades of Jim Crow, when the Klan was a state-sponsored terrorist organization, and into the New Jim Crow era.

As critical criminologist Jason M. Williams noted,"This tumultuous relationship between police and Blacks does not exist in a vacuum, as so many paint it.  In fact, according to many criminologists and police scholars, American policing began in the South with the slave patrols, and yet, today, as then, the response to the outcries of Blacks on this issue is non-acknowledgement and condemnation."

Concluding Observation

It is these bold-faced lies, when contrary evidence undermining his policy position is readily available, that leads many in the Black community not to trust the Sheriff and his deputies.  He assumes, perhaps correctly, that his base of support will simply believe their persecuted Sheriff and will not attempt to fact-check his assertions because they implicitly trust him.

It should now be obvious, to those who care to look, that the pattern of behaviors by this Sheriff and his deputies is probably driven by the hidden "operating system" of their tenacious belief in the myth of the "Super Predator."

I will contend that if you find that policy outcome X reveals a racial disparity, that the disparity will be consistent with the expected policy outcomes of the "Super Predator" thesis.  The "Super Predator" thesis, in turn, is rooted in centuries of white supremacy thought in American culture.

That is why when real criminologists and sociologists put it to empirical test, it evaporated; it vanished.  The "Super Predator" thesis was racist speculation masquerading as criminological fact.  Black women and Black men were not producing a generation of marauding psychopaths whose only ambition in life was to satisfy their lust for rape, stealing, beating, drug dealing, and killing.

Sheriff Morgan's "Super Predator" thesis is so bogus, that even data collected by the Florida Department of Health within Escambia County over the last two decades demonstrates that it is false.

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