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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:
– September 26th at 11:30.
And I was sitting at the TV and I heard the news
that someone died in the county jail. I just…
got on my feet, and my wife said,
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to the County, I wanna find out
“if something’s wrong with my son.”
I asked for my son on the Tower.
And they said, “There’s nothing wrong.
“We don’t see nothing.”
(female reporter): Two LA County inmates who died suddenly
both within 48 hours while in custody.
Sheriff’s officials have yet to release
any information on the circumstances.
What they are confirming is that one of these deaths
is being looked at as a potential homicide.
– We need the County Board of Supervisors
in the city of Los Angeles to get on
what’s happening inside of these jails.
– The investigator, she left a message
She said that my son passed away.
I said “How? I can’t believe it.”
She said that he got in a fight with someone.
They took him to the showers, and he collapsed.
And I just threw the phone on the bed.
After that, I didn’t sleep.
You can understand the trauma,
the frustration and the sadness.
– I did time inside as well,
I did six years in prison.
And I came to this work because a close friend of mine
passed away due to medical negligence in CIW Prison.
So since then, I’m just fighting to be the voice
for people inside, like Juan.
– He has his mental problem, schizophrenic bipolar.
Sometimes we can control him if we give him his medicine.
But this time, he didn’t want to take the medicine,
and we found him on a bus bench.
They took him to the hospital.
After three hours, he went to jail.
– Pacific Hospital sent him to jail?
– They called the police.
– I mean the fire department,
because he tried to light his cigarette.
His little bud cigarette, and he burned a blanket.
And they charged him with arson.
That’s how my son started with jail.
– I just appreciate you telling us your story and I’m just…
It’s awful. It’s awful.
– It is. – And unfortunately,
it’s happening inside jails a lot.
One mother in particular, her name’s Helen
They said he committed suicide, she knows he didn’t.
That has often been helpful to meet with other families
who’ve been through the process with the Sheriff’s Department.
‘Cause they’re… it’s very particular.
They hide a lot of stuff, they’re not transparent.
– Yes. – So to get some information
from another family member
that’s been through that process could be useful.
– Thank you. – You’re welcome.
– Thank you for your help.
– Of course. – I appreciate that.
– Hi, Maria. – Nice to meet you.
– My name is Helen Marie Jones-Philipp.
Some of the issues that’s most important to me
is human rights and police brutality.
What brought me in to working with Patrisse,
DPN and Black Lives Matter
is from what I went through with my son.
– The detective told me my brother was yelling.
The CO went to go see what was going on
and when he went to the cell,
then that’s when my brother supposedly attacked
And then afterwards, they pepper sprayed my brother.
He collapsed, they tried to perform CPR,
but couldn’t revive him.
So that was the story he told me.
– Something’s not clear. – No, it’s not.
– You know, just seeing his body.
I mean, bruises everywhere.
Well, you know on your neck, the little, like…
– So something was going on in the neck area.
– If they didn’t choke him out…
A lot of makeup, but I could see,
and I could see bruises here.
– You know your brother didn’t die the way they say.
– My brother passed away at 2:30 PM.
But we didn’t get notified
’til 1 AM in the morning the next day.
– ‘Cause they have time to put their story together.
– I understand what y’all are going through.
They told me my son had a fight with an inmate,
and they put him in a hole
When I went to the coroner, I say,
what was my son’s cause of death?
He showed me where John had blunt force trauma
And he showed me a list where his liver was busted,
his kidney was busted, his pancreas.
It just didn’t look right. I knew John didn’t hang himself
I had to find out what happened.
I couldn’t rest if I didn’t find out what happened.
He turned around and was beaten by ten officers.
And only three of them got caught
because their scanners put them in the cell
with John at his time of death.
I filed a lawsuit in 2010
and I lost the first round.
And the case was settled for 2 million.
I feel the Sheriff’s Department is just a brutal…
and by their organization being so strong,
you know, they let their deputies get away
with covering up deaths and killing people.
Did you ever think that you didn’t want
to go through the pain of the case
and to dwell in the memory of all the bad stuff
– You know what? – My mom just wanted his…
She just wanted his spirit to rest.
– I owed it to him as his mother
to find out what happened to him.
Because if I don’t know what happened,
I’m always wondering what happened to him,
I know he didn’t kill himself.
So I had to find out what happened to my son.
And it gave me the strength to keep fighting, keep pushing.
To keep digging, and digging, and digging,
and pushing, and pushing.
– My mom would visit him every Tuesday. Right?
This Tuesday, the day he passed,
was the only Tuesday she didn’t go.
“If I would’ve did this, I would’ve did that.”
– That’s what she was saying. – You can’t do that to yourself.
‘Cause there’s nothing you could have changed that day.
There’s nothing you could have done.
But now, there’s something you can do now.
Fight with everything you have in you,
’cause now it’s like, you have a purpose.
You have a purpose to get up every day like,
“You know what, I’mma find out what happened to my son.”
– My son didn’t deserve all of this.
I don’t want people to go…
go through the pain that I’m passing through.
I don’t know what’s gonna happen
but I want justice. I want justice.
– When you lose a child,
you lose a part of yourself.
You have to live in a new skin.
That’s how it was like for me.
It was like, I wasn’t even in my body no more.
So to see people coming together
to support you, that means a lot.
I mean, it really means a lot
because you know that you’re not by yourself.
– Dia De Los Muertos, or Day Of The Dead
it’s a historical event that people do
to commemorate and to celebrate
individuals who have passed.
(Patrisse): As I see the candles are being lit,
I want us to take a moment to bow our heads
and just give honor and space.
Because we know that it’s just not John,
and we know that it’s just not Juan.
That there’re so many others.
And let’s just take a moment of silence.
It’s up to us to remember our loved ones.
Because they’ll try to push them underneath the rug.
They’ll try to smear our loved ones’ names.
They’ll try to tell us that they deserved to die.
So we get to stand up tonight.
And we get to say something differently.
We get to share a different story.
They’ll try to paint them as monsters.
But we get to say, “Actually no.”
We’re not going out like that.
This post was previously published on YouTube.
Photo credit: Screenshot from video