White nationalist inmates in Sacramento County are less than pleased with their treatment by authorities and claim the jailers aren’t doing enough to protect them amid the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Lawyers for 11 defendants with ties to the Aryan Brotherhood filed a federal lawsuit this week complaining their clients faced “outrageous” conduct and mistreatment by sheriff’s deputies in a reported incident earlier this month, the Sacramento Bee reports.
According to the filing, inmates were jostled from their beds in the middle of the night and held at gunpoint while their cells were ransacked.
“Between March 11 and March 12, 2020, each of the defendants housed on 8 West were awoken by [prison] guards screaming, yelling at them to ‘cuff up’ and pointing guns into their cells,” the complaint states. “Sheriff’s deputies had flashlights affixed to the ends of their rifles, their rifles trained on each person, and deputies wore tactical gear and masks.”
Hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars of commissary, the suit alleges, was destroyed in the impromptu raid, and deputies made a jumble of each man’s personal belongings. Guards reportedly were searching for a screw “the size of a tic tac” that had gone missing.
“Almost no contraband was found,” the documents state. “Allegedly one individual had two glasses of ‘wine’ in his cell.”
Attorneys for the defendants, five of whom are accused murderers, argue the deputies’ conduct “amounts to nothing more than harassment and an attempt to provoke.”
But the complaints don’t end there. Lawyers said that since the coronavirus, which, according to early Friday totals, has infected some 93,000 people in the U.S., tough restrictions at the jail has made it harder to meet with their clients. The highly transmissible disease has forced the closures of schools, restaurants and other nonessential businesses across the nation, with local officials issuing stay-at-home orders to help slow its spread.
As part of that effort, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department said it plans to grant over 400 nonviolent inmates early release. A Sacramento superior court judge gave the directive Wednesday, saying, “it’s in the best interest of public health to reduce the population in the Sacramento County Jail System.”
Those with little chance of getting out soon say the proper precautions aren’t being taken to protect against the virus, however.
Samuel Keeton, an alleged Aryan Brotherhood associate jailed on charges of conspiracy to distribute meth and heroin to other members of the group while on parole, filed a motion for his immediate release Wednesday, citing his asthma and susceptibility to catching COVID-19.
“Mr. Keeton has personally witnessed medical staff not practicing proper sanitary practices,” his attorney David Fischer wrote, alleging that staff “distributes medication from inmate to inmate without wearing gloves or masks.”
Fischer further argued that inmates have been denied access to personal hygiene and cleaning items since the pandemic, including “showers and other means to protect themselves against a disease.”
Atlanta Black Star reached out to the sheriff’s department for comment and is awaiting response.