LA’s Prison System

Resist: ‘Why Didn’t LA’s Prison System Protect My Son?’ Part 10 of 12

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By Patrisse Cullors

LA’s Prison System

This episode is dedicated to the memories of Juan Correa, Jr. and John Thomas Horton III, two men whose mysterious deaths inside L.A.’s prison system remain unsolved. Meet the families who are seeking justice for their wrongful deaths.

RESIST is a 12 episode docuseries that follows the grassroots work of the intersectional organizations fighting the Los Angeles county’s $3.5 billion jail expansion plan in 2018. RESIST examines the issues of cash bail, unlawful arrest, over-policing of Black and brown neighborhoods, and mass incarceration.

Transcript provided by YouTube:

00:15

– September 26th at 11:30.

00:18

And I was sitting at the TV and I heard the news

00:21

that someone died in the county jail. I just…

00:27

got on my feet, and my wife said,

00:29

“Where are you going?”

00:30

“I’m going to the County, I wanna find out

00:32

“if something’s wrong with my son.”

00:36

I asked for my son on the Tower.

00:39

And they said, “There’s nothing wrong.

00:41

“We don’t see nothing.”

00:46

(female reporter): Two LA County inmates who died suddenly

00:48

both within 48 hours while in custody.

00:51

Sheriff’s officials have yet to release

00:53

any information on the circumstances.

00:54

What they are confirming is that one of these deaths

00:57

is being looked at as a potential homicide.

00:59

– We need the County Board of Supervisors

01:01

in the city of Los Angeles to get on

01:02

what’s happening inside of these jails.

01:12

– The investigator, she left a message

01:16

She said that my son passed away.

01:19

I said “How? I can’t believe it.”

01:21

She said that he got in a fight with someone.

01:25

They took him to the showers, and he collapsed.

01:32

And I just threw the phone on the bed.

01:35

After that, I didn’t sleep.

01:39

You can understand the trauma,

01:42

the frustration and the sadness.

01:47

– I did time inside as well,

01:49

I did six years in prison.

01:51

And I came to this work because a close friend of mine

01:54

passed away due to medical negligence in CIW Prison.

01:58

So since then, I’m just fighting to be the voice

02:02

for people inside, like Juan.

02:04

– He has his mental problem, schizophrenic bipolar.

02:08

Sometimes we can control him if we give him his medicine.

02:11

But this time, he didn’t want to take the medicine,

02:14

and we found him on a bus bench.

02:18

They took him to the hospital.

02:20

After three hours, he went to jail.

02:23

– Pacific Hospital sent him to jail?

02:25

– They called the police.

02:29

– I mean the fire department,

02:31

because he tried to light his cigarette.

02:35

His little bud cigarette, and he burned a blanket.

02:39

And they charged him with arson.

02:44

That’s how my son started with jail.

02:47

– I just appreciate you telling us your story and I’m just…

02:51

It’s awful. It’s awful.

02:53

– It is. – And unfortunately,

02:55

it’s happening inside jails a lot.

02:59

One mother in particular, her name’s Helen

03:02

They said he committed suicide, she knows he didn’t.

03:04

That has often been helpful to meet with other families

03:07

who’ve been through the process with the Sheriff’s Department.

03:09

‘Cause they’re… it’s very particular.

03:11

They hide a lot of stuff, they’re not transparent.

03:14

– Yes. – So to get some information

03:16

from another family member

03:18

that’s been through that process could be useful.

03:20

– Thank you. – You’re welcome.

03:22

– Thank you for your help.

03:24

– Of course. – I appreciate that.

03:35

– Hi, Maria. – Nice to meet you.

03:38

– My name is Helen Marie Jones-Philipp.

03:41

Some of the issues that’s most important to me

03:43

is human rights and police brutality.

03:46

What brought me in to working with Patrisse,

03:48

DPN and Black Lives Matter

03:51

is from what I went through with my son.

03:54

– The detective told me my brother was yelling.

03:57

The CO went to go see what was going on

04:00

and when he went to the cell,

04:02

then that’s when my brother supposedly attacked

04:06

And then afterwards, they pepper sprayed my brother.

04:09

He collapsed, they tried to perform CPR,

04:11

but couldn’t revive him.

04:13

So that was the story he told me.

04:15

– Something’s not clear. – No, it’s not.

04:17

– You know, just seeing his body.

04:19

I mean, bruises everywhere.

04:21

Well, you know on your neck, the little, like…

04:25

– So something was going on in the neck area.

04:29

– If they didn’t choke him out…

04:31

A lot of makeup, but I could see,

04:34

and I could see bruises here.

04:35

– You know your brother didn’t die the way they say.

04:38

– My brother passed away at 2:30 PM.

04:41

But we didn’t get notified

04:42

’til 1 AM in the morning the next day.

04:44

– ‘Cause they have time to put their story together.

04:48

– I understand what y’all are going through.

04:50

They told me my son had a fight with an inmate,

04:52

and they put him in a hole

04:55

When I went to the coroner, I say,

04:57

what was my son’s cause of death?

04:59

He showed me where John had blunt force trauma

05:04

And he showed me a list where his liver was busted,

05:08

his kidney was busted, his pancreas.

05:11

It just didn’t look right. I knew John didn’t hang himself

05:15

I had to find out what happened.

05:18

I couldn’t rest if I didn’t find out what happened.

05:23

He turned around and was beaten by ten officers.

05:27

And only three of them got caught

05:30

because their scanners put them in the cell

05:34

with John at his time of death.

05:36

I filed a lawsuit in 2010

05:38

and I lost the first round.

05:43

And the case was settled for 2 million.

05:46

I feel the Sheriff’s Department is just a brutal…

05:54

and by their organization being so strong,

05:57

you know, they let their deputies get away

06:01

with covering up deaths and killing people.

06:04

Did you ever think that you didn’t want

06:06

to go through the pain of the case

06:09

and to dwell in the memory of all the bad stuff

06:14

– You know what? – My mom just wanted his…

06:16

She just wanted his spirit to rest.

06:18

– I owed it to him as his mother

06:20

to find out what happened to him.

06:22

Because if I don’t know what happened,

06:24

I’m always wondering what happened to him,

06:26

I know he didn’t kill himself.

06:28

So I had to find out what happened to my son.

06:31

And it gave me the strength to keep fighting, keep pushing.

06:35

To keep digging, and digging, and digging,

06:37

and pushing, and pushing.

06:40

– My mom would visit him every Tuesday. Right?

06:43

This Tuesday, the day he passed,

06:46

was the only Tuesday she didn’t go.

06:48

“If I would’ve did this, I would’ve did that.”

06:50

– That’s what she was saying. – You can’t do that to yourself.

06:54

‘Cause there’s nothing you could have changed that day.

06:58

There’s nothing you could have done.

07:01

But now, there’s something you can do now.

07:03

Fight with everything you have in you,

07:05

’cause now it’s like, you have a purpose.

07:10

You have a purpose to get up every day like,

07:13

“You know what, I’mma find out what happened to my son.”

07:17

– My son didn’t deserve all of this.

07:19

I don’t want people to go…

07:23

go through the pain that I’m passing through.

07:26

I don’t know what’s gonna happen

07:28

but I want justice. I want justice.

07:40

– When you lose a child,

07:42

you lose a part of yourself.

07:43

You have to live in a new skin.

07:45

That’s how it was like for me.

07:47

It was like, I wasn’t even in my body no more.

07:50

So to see people coming together

07:52

to support you, that means a lot.

07:54

I mean, it really means a lot

07:56

because you know that you’re not by yourself.

08:08

– Dia De Los Muertos, or Day Of The Dead

08:11

it’s a historical event that people do

08:14

to commemorate and to celebrate

08:17

individuals who have passed.

08:21

(Patrisse): As I see the candles are being lit,

08:24

I want us to take a moment to bow our heads

08:27

and just give honor and space.

08:30

Because we know that it’s just not John,

08:33

and we know that it’s just not Juan.

08:34

That there’re so many others.

08:37

And let’s just take a moment of silence.

08:42

It’s up to us to remember our loved ones.

08:45

Because they’ll try to push them underneath the rug.

08:47

They’ll try to smear our loved ones’ names.

08:50

They’ll try to tell us that they deserved to die.

08:53

So we get to stand up tonight.

08:56

And we get to say something differently.

08:58

We get to share a different story.

09:05

They’ll try to paint them as monsters.

09:08

But we get to say, “Actually no.”

09:13

We’re not going out like that.

Prison System
LA’s Prison System

This post was previously published on YouTube.


Photo credit: Screenshot from video

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