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Mendocino County Today: August 3, 2012

CORRECTION: In the AVA of July 18th, civil court bailiff Marty McCue was confused with an unruly spectator. We regret the error, which was committed during the editing process, and not by the writer of the piece, Bruce McEwen.


Editor, This letter is about the inhumane treatment in isola­tion here at the Mendocino County Jail. I addressed, or tried to address, the Ukiah Daily Journal and the Press Democrat which did an article recently on solitary confinement. Those papers chose to ignore comment on this article. I wrote that we need to look first at our backyard before taking on the state. Doctors and research done by professors across the states have concluded conclusively damage is done to a person in solitary. The list is far and above inhumane. Let me say that's all that law enforcement and Corrections decision makers will allow to be seen.

My name is James Kester. I am currently housed in isolation here at the Mendocino County Jail. My neighbor is a man named Justin Quarterman. He is very mentally ill. He has been my neighbor for over two months. In this time the Corrections deputies have not showered him or shaved him or showed him how to shower. His skin is literally peeling off of his face. On top of this the drain here is backed up. Two weeks ago it was backed up with feces and sewage floating under our door. I obtained bleach and cleanser through fits of despair and this poor man is still sitting in the same jumpsuit and socks and so forth that he casually romped around in the sewage in.

Now if anyone knows a state health worker or the president who can come to test the E. coli in this place I can show them where it is.

Folks, I am housed here with no cause. This is the same section of the jail where the poor soul hung himself a couple months back. My neighbors in three cells are wallowing in inhumane conditions and there are only five cells back here in isolation. The Corrections staff have their jobs seriously misconstrued. They will spend two hours tearing up the cards and pictures that my wife sent me, but they won't take 15 minutes to look out for a human being's health. This poor soul eats without a spoon every day and his cell is also infected with ants and bugs and who knows what else. He's so out of touch because as I have witnessed people who just keep kicking him when he's down.

It's very sad. Very sad. The whole state of affairs is very sad.

We are in a country which promises freedom and innocence until proven guilty with healthcare and no bias — the list goes on and I could write a real-life horror story about this. It is a real-life horror story. The list is endless about my treatment here and solitary confinement is hard time. But as I look at my poor neighbor I realize what are his chances? Where does he go from here? Who would ever care enough to help the poor guy?

Ladies and gentlemen: anyone with the ability to speak out for me — all I have is a pencil and paper. But I would be willing to show and prove that all I say here is true. We need help and my neighbor needs a doctor. Please help me make a stand.

James Kester, 951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA 95482.

ED NOTE: I talked with Captain Tim Pearce early Monday morning when I received your letter. Pearce conceded that Mr. Quarterman, because of his extreme mental illness, constantly resists the maintenance of ordinary hygienic standards. Pearce assured me, however, that everything possible was being done to make Mr. Quarterman as comfortable as possible in his unhappy circumstances. As you know, the Mendocino County Jail is not designed to house or treat the mentally ill, and pro­grams for people like Mr. Quarterman have been dismantled. It's all going to get worse because, as you probably know, a great swindle is being carried out on all of us by the One Per­cent as they systematically de-fund the social programs designed to care for Americans who need help. Hunker down, dude, a long hard ride for all of us has commenced. PS. I've looked into your case, and I agree it was self-defense all the way. Good luck to you and Mr. Q.

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THE TRANSFER of the more tractable inmates from state prisons to county jails has had an unintended consequence. Some 4,000 men do much of the state’s annual firefighting, especially the onerous work of digging containment lines. But that 4,000 figure could shrink to as few as 1,500 as the men trained to beat back wildfires serve out their sentences in their counties of origin.

IN THEIR familiar orange protective clothing — Cal Fire firefighters wear yellow — inmate firefighters were crucial in the defeat of July’s stubborn Robbers Fire, which burned 2,650 acres in the American River canyon in Placer County. The steep Canyon walls made for an inaccessibility that prevented the usual array of bulldozers and other mechanized equipment from reaching the front lines; the work had to be done by hand.

CHEMICAL flame retardant couldn’t be dropped on the blaze for fear its poisons would make their way into Folsom Lake, part of California's water system. 800 prisoners wielding chainsaws and hand tools finally contained the fire.

BUT WITH THE TRAINED men re-assigned to county jails, and counties being so cash-strapped they can’t afford to fund inmate firefighters, it appears that this most valuable program is doomed.

THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL has again voted unanimously to put off another vote on a resolution that would abate the abandoned Palace Hotel. The thinking seems to be that so long as the once-elegant old structure’s apparent owner, a Marin County woman named Eladia Laines, seems to be making progress towards eventual rehab, everyone will pretend that the building can be saved. Ms. Laines says she’s talking to an asbestos contractor, she anticipates approval from the County’s obdurate one-man Air Quality agency, that she’s in possession of a “qualified written estimate for patching” the roof, that she’s ordered material to cover the windows, and that she’s hired someone to clear title to ownership of the building. These Micawber-ish assurances satisfied the City Council that maybe, just maybe, someday, somehow the Palace Hotel will again be up and humming.

LIGHTEN UP, TIFFANY! You'd think the Pinches' were the Kardashians, and maybe they're Mendo's Kardashians from the front page attention they get in the Ukiah Daily Journal.

SUPERVISOR JOHN PINCHES' daughter, Angela, was arrested months ago on pot-related charges when Angela's toddler was found wandering around down the Redwood Valley road where Angela lives. Angela had left the child with her 9-year-old while she ran to her father's house to pick up her third child. The cops were called by neighbors who spotted the wandering child. And the cops found a lot of marijuana at Angela's house when mother and child were re-united. Few parents can honestly say they haven't briefly lost track of a kid, but from the local media attention this episode gets you'd think it was the crime of the century. Why all the attention? Angela's father is an elected official. And he, like millions of Americans, thinks marijuana should be legalized because the laws prohibiting it are not only futile, but the prohibitions cause crime — lots of it. But the Journal's Tiffany Revelle takes this very old story over the top with this line: "Ms. Pinches, whose father, John Pinches, has spent his political career advocating for the legalization of marijuana, had a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana.”

SUPERVISOR PINCHES has spent his political career advocating lots of things besides sensible strategies for dealing with devil weed. His colleague, Dan Hamburg, can fairly be described as a pot guy on both ends of the industry, production and consumption. I doubt that Pinches even smokes the stuff. He looks more like a whiskey and steak man than a stoner. But as an elected official, Pinches has been a consistent voice for fiscal restraint and a commonsense approach to County management. It's unfair to pound away at him just because his daughter runs afoul of the law.

One Comment

  1. Jim Hill August 3, 2012

    Who reads the journal anymore?

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