A torturous van ride

Moody, Jesse, Jr.

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A Torturous Van Ride By Jesse Moody JR AKA Kingsta January 4, 2018 Imagine this... On this day you arise from your slumber and go through your normal routine. You make your bed, drape yourself in clothing, use the bathroom, brush your teeth, and eat breakfast. After saying your farewells to your family, you finish preparing for work. Then, as soon as you walk out of the door, police officers unexpectedly approach you with menacing scowls. Once they are upon you, they aggressively grab you by the arms and command you to come with them. Now, at this very moment you are confused, aggravated, and the fear of the unknown implodes in your belly. Your futile attempts to protest your unlawful capture are ignored as the officers place ankle restraints and a belly chain with handcuffs on you. At this point you are overcome with enveloping anxiety but you are powerless to do anything to escape from your captors. Quieting yourself, you attempt to gain a miniscule of composure as they lead you to a waiting squad car. You are absolutely positive this whole incident is a mistake that will soon be corrected in the near future. The police officers shuffle you past the rear doors ofthe squad car and pop the trunk. Now, you are thinking that they need to retrieve something from the back of the car before taking you to some other unknown destination. However, without warning, the two officers hoist you in the air and roughly toss you in the trunk and shut you inside. Once again your cries in protest are ignored as moments later the car begins to move. You are surrounded by almost complete darkness in the trunk of this full size automobile, unable to stretch out due to the cramp quarters, and your level of discomfort is heightened because of the steel restraints attached to your body. As you feel the car move along the road, you begin to ponder if your current predicament is even real and you hope that you are dreaming. You are an American citizen in a modernized society and believe that you should not be treated as if you were a criminal in some third world country where many people suffer injustice without receiving due process of the law... That was fiction, but if you are an American citizen who has never been arrested or transported in a Van Cell, that story will assist you in visualizing my true life experience. I suffered mental and physical pain from the cruel and unusual treatment by U.S. Corrections — a private company contracted with the government to transport detaineesl around the country. On Sunday October 1, 2017 at approximately seven a.m. inside the intake room of Bay Correctional Facility (BCF), a U.S. Corrections employee shackled me with ankle restraints and a belly chain that was attached to handcuffs which were secured around my wrists. I was then guided to a transport van of similar dimensions and size of the van one can rent from U—haul. The transport vehicle was modified with a steel structure in the rear to secure detainees being moved to different locations. This structure can be described as a steel box cage that was made I’’. by Bob Barker Company labeled as a ”Van Cel Before you continue reading, I ask that you take a look at the accurate and well crafted drawings at the end ofthis piece so that you can visualize the interior of my tortuous ride. In our technological advanced age you can Google almost anything and find it in the treasure troves of the Internet. I have had people scour the Net for Van Cell by Bob Barker and they only discovered pictures of the outside. Owners and operators of the Van Cell will tell you that pictures of the inside are not available for viewing because it is a security risk. This is just another unfounded and unjustifiable excuse to hide their sadistic and inhumane transport vehicle from members of society who will protest to this grotesque means of moving humans long distances around the country. 1 Detainees: includes people who have not been convicted of a crime and those who have been adjudicated guilty of breaking the law. This Van Cell had a bench —one on each side- that ran from the back door to stop a few feet behind the front two seats of the vehicle. Between the front seats and the back compartment was a separate steel cage that housed up to three people in a very small space. A reasonable person could determine that the Van Cell was not made for long distance travel. The back of the Van Cell seated a maximum of eight people with four on each side. However, if the transport officers wanted to increase their cruelty, they could and would squeeze an extra person on each side. This particular Van Cell did not have a partition that separated the right side passengers from the left side in the back compartment. The absence or presence of the partition can turn a painful ride into a tortuous nightmare. Furthermore, immediately after I was guided up and into the back of the Van Cell I noticed that there were no seat belts or any other restraints that are required for any type of travel inside a vehicle smaller than a bus. I was also greeted with a rank smell that I associated with sweat, spoiled food, and vomit. I also recognized I was the only person on the van as there was no one else in the back or in the small compartment behind the front seats that was separated from me by a steel wall. Transported with ankle restraints, a belly chain, and a handcuff attached to my body without a seat belt fastening me to the bench is a dangerous safety hazard. Because of the inhumane and unlawful conditions of the Van Cell I assumed my current mode of transportation was temporary and I would be transferred to a safe and lawful mode of transportation. I understand and accept that I was convicted of a crime and sentenced to do time in the Florida Department of Corrections but I was not sentenced to risk life and limb. During my first and second trip inside the Van Cell, the driver periodically slammed the brakes to avoid collision with another vehicle and exceeded the speed limit many times. I was constantly aware that if an accident occurred while I was inside the Van Cell I and the others would either die a painful death or suffer critical injuries. Hours later, I realized that my ride to Orange County Corrections Department (OCCD) would remain unsafe, unlawful, and a hazard to my health. After about two hours of riding, I desperately needed to use the bathroom. Soon thereafter, we arrived at an institution to pick up another person. I informed the transport officer that I needed to use the bathroom and I 3 could not hold it much longer but he denied my request and stated that I had to wait until we picked up the next person from another institution. One hour and 50 minutes later, I urinated on myself and 15 minutes after that, I was allowed to use the restroom. I notified the transport officer that I had wet my clothes with urine and needed to change clothes and take a shower but he simply said or did not do anything to fulfill my needs. I was then forced to ride for a total of 32 hours before I was eventually dropped off at OCCD at three p.m. October 2, 2017. Notwithstanding the necessary stops for various reasons, a five hour drive should not have taken 32 hours. Nevertheless, I, as well as the others, suffered constant physical pain due to the travel and safety conditions of the Van Cell, an inhumane amount of time shackled and handcuffed, and being neglected with the opportunity to use the restroom when needed. Having been forced to constrict myself from urinating has caused irreparable damage to my urinary system. During the entire trip, we were only allowed to leave the torture of the Van Cell every three to five hours for approximately 10 minutes to stretch and use the restroom. Stretching during stops only alleviated the pain in my lower back, buttocks, and knees for a short period because once I stepped back in the confines of the Van Cell the pain returned and was ever present during the entire trip. Any reasonable person would consider myjourney on this van cruel and unusual punishment. I am currently still suffering knee joint pain because I was forced to remain in a physically painful position for far too long. I take prescribed medication for myjoint pain but the drugs had a very minimal effect on relieving my constant suffering from the steel restraints and my body trapped in a painful position for extended periods of time. Also, during my first trip, I banged my forehead on the edge of the gated window of the steel wall a few times because I could not keep my head in an upright still position as I suffered from sleep deprivation. U.S. Corrections transport officers showed a blatant disregard for our health and safety primarily by not allowing us to bathe or brush our teeth, keeping us in shackles and belly chains for an illegal amount of time, exposing us to urine, vomit, and other health hazards, and by transporting us without strapping us down with seat belts while driving recklessly and speeding. Although the courts have not deemed it cruel and unusual punishment for officials to not strap detainees down with seatbelts while transporting them long distances, it is a violation of the 8”‘ Amendment ifthere are no seatbelts and the officials drive recklessly and disregard the speed limit, see Brown v. Fortner, 518 F.3d 552, 561(8th Cir. 2008). During both of my trips, the officials drove recklessly and exceeded the speed limit numerous times and disregarded our complaints asking the driver to slow down. Some federal courts have determined that merely transporting people long distances in shackles, handcuffs, and belly chains, not allowing them to use the restroom when nature calls, and not strapping detainees down with seatbelts is not considered cruel and unusual punishment. Any reasonable person would disagree with this assessment. I can understand not using seatbelts in a large bus because large vehicles are much less likely to become involved in fatal accidents and drivers of large buses generally do not speed. On the other hand, if a van similar to the size I was transported in becomes involved in an accident its chances of flipping over, becoming severely damaged, and/or causing fatal deaths is extremely higher than a large bus in similar circumstances. Moreover, using seatbelts presents another problem for Van Cell occupants. If detainees are strapped down in seatbelts, they will not be able to stand and/or stretch to alleviate the pain in their backs, buttocks, and knees while traveling long distances. The ride is already painful but implementing seatbelts in Van Cells will just exacerbate the problem. This is just one of the many reasons why Van Cells and similar structures should be outlawed for long and short distance travel. The reasonable person would consider the Van Cell unsafe for transporting people for long or short distances. The illustrations at the end of this dissertation paint an accurate depiction of the Van Cel|’s tortuous conditions and tiny space of a human trafficking vehicle (see illustrations # 1 and 2). At approximately 7:30 p.m. November 25, 2017 one ofthe same officers who transported me the first trip from BCF to OCCD picked me up from OCCD to transport me back to BCF. My second trip on the Van Cell was even worse than the first namely because we were at full capacity during the entire time I was an occupant and the rear compartment of the steel cage had a partition in the middle that separated the right side passengers in the rear from those on the left (see illustration #Q). The partition made it much more difficult to stretch our legs to assuage some of the pain in our knees. Due to the increased cramp quarters, we were compelled to stand up while the van was moving to stretch our legs. Standing while such a small vehicle was rolling at high rates of speed was dangerous but detainees were willing to risk their safety in hopes of alleviating the constant pain felt in the buttocks, knees, and lower back. I and the others suffered similar physical and mental pain that I experienced on my first trip during my entire ride back to BCF. We were only allowed to use the restroom and stretch our bodies every three to five hours and not allowed to brush our teeth. The pain in my buttocks was increased because the portion of the bench I was sitting on was missing the cushion. I and the others were trapped in the Van Cell for 24 hours except for minimal breaks. After about 12 hours of riding in a painful seating position, I shed tears because ofthe immense pain I felt in the lower parts of my body. This increased pain was primarily caused by my limited mobility because ofthe restraints and partition. I repeatedly informed the officers of my pain and that we were being treated unjustly but they did nothing to rectify our tortuous conditions. During a portion ofthe trip, we were forced to remain shackled and handcuffed to a belly chain while standing outside of the Van Cell at Duval Countyjail for approximately three hours. Eventually we arrived at Bristol County Jail (BCJ) for a layover about 11:30 p.m. November 26. After 24 hours of suffering we were given a mattress, blanket, one sheet, towel, and washcloth by the BC] employee and presented with the opportunity to bathe. Once again, a five hour drive was converted into an inexcusable long ride because the officers had too many pickups and drop offs scheduled for the trip. We were not given any soap and some of us were forced to sleep on the floor of the jail due to its overcrowded capacity. About 11:30 a.m. the next day, the U.S. Corrections officers returned and retrieved us from the jail. I was subsequently fed by U.S. transport officers about 30 minutes after being picked up from BC]. Later, they dropped me off at BCF at 1:00 p.m. the same day about 40 minutes after I ate. As I type this essay, my knee joints are still suffering the effects of the painful and inhumane ride trapped inside the Van Cell. Immediately upon returning to BCF I searched for legal cases involving U.S. Corrections and I have discovered cases where they have been involved with the unlawful treatment of inmates in various situations- including conditions of confinement while transporting detainees. In Groover v. Broward County u.s. App. LEXIS 5753 (5”‘ and 11”‘ Cir. April 4, 2017) the Plaintiff Groover alleged that he was forced to ride in a steel cage that lacked ventilation. Because of 6 procedural errors in his complaint the federal district court dismissed his complaint but the appeals court granted his appeal. In another case, Dyer filed an extensive complaint in which U.S. Corrections was listed as a Defendant but Dyer did not connect the violations to the defendants. His suit was dismissed by the federal district court and the 6”‘ circuit federal appeals court later affirmed the district court's decision because he did not properly state his meritorious claims. See Dyer v. U.S. Corrections Corp U.S. App. LEXIS 4711 (6th Cir. 1999). It must be noted that the legislation in both federal and state have made it very difficult for detainees to challenge and obtain relief when their civil rights are violated (The Prison Litigation Reform Act [PLRA] for example). In Groover’s case mentioned above, one can see that he presented a legitimate claim to the courts but because he did not state it in the format that was recognized by the district court as proper it was dismissed. In my limited study of detainees’ civil rights violations, I have read many cases that were dismissed because of procedural errors. The state and federal constitutions do not mandate granting people a lawyer in civil cases; therefore, one has to function in the manner of a lawyer to properly file and have a chance to succeed on a claim(s) in state and federal court since, from my limited experience, many lawyers are reluctant to represent detainees for civil rights violations which substantially hinders many lawsuits brought by the incarcerated from succeeding on legitimate claims. Although I possess meritorious claims for my civil complaints and many other civil rights violations, I have yet to discover a lawyer willing to represent me in one of my previous lawsuits concerning unlawful conditions of confinement. I am not implicating that there are no attorneys who will represent detainees in civil suits based on contingency but I am merely stating that the entire process of obtaining relief for a claim is more difficult than it should be in America's modernized society. I am fortunate enough to possess the courage, resilience, and aptitude to pursue my claims until I receive relief but almost every single incarcerated individual I have met or are currently acquainted with lacks one of the necessary qualities needed to see that he or she receives justice for legitimate claims of civil rights violations. Excuse my digression from the main theme but the unknowledgeable must understand the difficult challenges pretrial detaineesz and convicted prisoners encounter when attempting to obtain relief for civil rights violations. Simply because the public do not hear or see these incidents on TV, the internet, the newspaper, or any other mainstream media outlet does not mean detainees are not being treated unjustly on a regular basis. I will continue to remain an accurate and reliable source of information for the civil rights violations I and others suffer due to the deliberate indifference and illicit behavior ofjail and prison officials and their employees. Transporting people in unlawful conditions that amount to cruel and unusual punishment should not be a common occurrence in modern America. A claim is considered cruel and unusual punishment and a violation ofthe Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States if it is worse than harsh. In Chandler v. Crosby 379 F.3d 1278 (5th and 11”‘ Cir. 2004) the courts stated, ”The Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons. If prison conditions are merely restrictive and even harsh, they are part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses against society. Generally speaking, prison conditions rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation only when they involve the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain.” There were moments during my first and second trip in the Van Cell, operated by U.S Corrections, when I shed tears while wincing in pain from being stuck in the same physical position for extended periods of time with steel restraints attached to my body. My trip caused me to experience pain that was worse than harsh which amounted to an Eighth Amendment violation. I am absolutely thankful that the officials did not place a ‘black box’ over the handcuffs which substantially limits wrists, hands, and overall physical range of motion and exponentially increases the pain around the wrists and other upper body parts simply because ofthe limited range of motion. The courts have concluded that the general use of ‘black boxes’ on detainees while transporting them is not unconstitutional, see Wean v. Budz, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29072 (11th Cir. 2013). I believe that any reasonable person would agree that transporting a person for long distances while he or she is handcuffed under the suppression ofthe black box would subject the individual to the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain. The people 2 Pretrial detainees: are people who have not been convicted of a crime 8 who decide the matters of what is or is not cruel and unusual punishment have not been subjected to these conditions. They say it is punishment for the crime; well, what is it for the pretrial detainee who has not been convicted of violating the law. Put shackles, belly chain, and handcuffs with the black box attached on a juror or trier of fact and tell them they must remain restrained in that manner for over 24 hours in a steel cage and then ask them if they would conclude those conditions to be cruel and unusual punishment. Since pretrial detainees are prohibited from receiving any form of punishment, a pretrial detainee’s trip in a Van Cell should not be allowed under any circumstances. Even if a judge or jury have difficulty concluding that my trip under the despicable conditions ofthe Van Cell amounts to an Eighth Amendment violation surely a pretrial detainee will succeed in a suit if he or she files a complaint claiming similar civil rights violations. However, during my second trip inside the Van Cell there was a pretrial detainee (accused of a VOP for a misdemeanor) riding with us who was subjected to the unlawful conditions of the Van Cell for a longer period of time than I. In either case, I truly believe that if a trier of fact or juror endured the same trip as I, on the Van Cell, he would absolutely conclude he suffered cruel and unusual punishment. It is unfortunate that I and others who have been subjected to a tortuous van ride must file a civil rights complaint with the courts and do so in the manner similar to a seasoned lawyer to have any hopes of obtaining relief from the courts and seek to have ‘Van Cell’ transporting outlawed. Regardless of how the courts deal with the complaint concerning my ride in the Van Cell after I file it in federal or state court, I will continue to expose detainees’ civil rights violations. Pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners who are subjected to painful trips in the Van Cell and other constitutional violations desperately needs to be addressed and eradicated from the penal system in our great country of America. I believe in the justice system and I agree that the rightfully convicted should receive punishment for their crimes. However, transporting people in Van Cells is inhumane and a worse mode of transport than the vehicles used to move animals down our country's roads and highways. In the future, if I must be transported to another facility, I have vowed to actively resist and protest another ride in Bob Barker's tortuous Van Cell. I am the voice crying out from the wilderness of injustice. 9 77W€ /Eofl/6 we /arnvci +0 F/‘J6 fr» %'})f; +/;.-, C Dm c7r—/’/)7Prrf F y F — 0/' Md»): im/r5. /4 // mrcv.5.r/xxx’/m»,,; 61ft £3/fiffafir/éfizwgyf/'4./—§‘. 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Author: Moody, Jesse, Jr.

Author Location: Florida

Date: January 4, 2018

Genre: Essay

Extent: 10 pages

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