When someone is arrested, there’s a certain set of rights that each individual is entitled to. For example, arrestees have the right to remain silent, be assigned a lawyer, and get a free ride in a cop car. And because of due process and other legal terms I had to google while writing this article, you also have a right to be arraigned within 10 days of your arrest and given a court date. Unless you’ve been taken to the Oklahoma County Jail, apparently.
Via Fox 25…
A local judge issued a court-sanctioned check of all inmates in the jail Friday after learning Charles Lemons was lost in the criminal justice system for months.
“It’s terrifying to think one can be there and lost in the system,” said county commissioner Kevin Calvey…
Public information officer, Mark Opgrande, with the Oklahoma County Jail said Lemons was arrested on a probation violation on July 21.
Opgrande said Lemons made 15 requests while in jail, but none that formally stated he had been in jail for too long.
“One of the things that we look at is, is there anything that he said to us that we didn’t report? We went back to look at his request of staff, things such as, ‘Do I need a Bible? Did I request a meeting with a chaplain. Do I need socks?’ He made 15 requests. Not one request though saying that he knew that, or indicated that, he hadn’t had a court date or he’s been here too long,” said Opgrande.
Hold up. Is the Oklahoma County Jail really trying to cover their asses by saying the guy they arrested AND somehow lost track of within their own facility is really the one to blame because he didn’t complain about being in jail too long? Now I’ve never been to jail, but I am familiar with the Stanford Prison Experiment and have watched a few late-night Lifetime movies about women falling in love with dudes on death row. And from those experiences I can tell you that it is generally not in the inmates’ best interests to complain about being locked up too long. So why would this Lemons guy speak up about his 8 months in county? Besides, it’s not likely that a big mistake like this happens often, right?
Calvey blames jail management for the mistake telling FOX 25 that problems like this happen at the jail all the time.
“A month ago I tried to do a count at the jail because I’ve been hearing rumors about this happening, about them losing people. The Sheriff’s Office stopped us from doing that,” said Calvey.
“This could have been anybody. This could have been someone who didn’t pay a parking ticket on time. It could have been somebody who was in there who couldn’t afford fines and fees and had a warrant issued for their arrest or someone who missed court because of a traffic ticket and got a warrant for their arrest. It could have been anybody in there, said Calvey. “Whatever the guy was in there for is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that people should not be kept behind bars without getting arraigned or due process of law. That’s the problem we have here and it’s not an isolated problem and we have all kinds of problems with the management at the jail and we need better oversight.”
Even though Lemons was arrested and jailed for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender and the Sheriff’s Department likely made a reasonable arrest, I agree with Calvey when he says that The Sheriff’s Office needs more accountability to keep mistakes like this from happening. However, I don’t agree with him when he says something like this could’ve happened to anybody. If Lemons was a wealthy ginger comedian, big film producer, or Oklahoma lawmaker, he probably wouldn’t have gone to jail in the first place.
Give the devil his due process and follow Hayley on twitter @squirrellygeek