Last Saturday night, November 3rd, 2007, I was traveling in my automobile. I parked in a restaurant's private parking lot. A Snohomish County Sheriff was checking license plates against computer records. I am aware that this has become a common practice. He arrested me for an outstanding warrant, issued October 22nd, 2007, for failure to appear on a traffic citation. I was in England on a medical emergency, and had notified the Court that I could not appear that day. As he was getting me out of his car in the basement of the jail he exclaimed “living the dream!”, which startled me. I asked “are you serious?” He answered in the affirmative.
The jailers, who style themselves "Corrections Officers," at the Snohomish County Jail (or "Corrections Facility") in Everett, Washington, USA, forced me through a variety of very well-practiced, choreographed, and degrading ordeals — bordering on the sadistic. They were quite clearly enjoying themselves. My clothes were taken and I was issued a thin cloth shirt and thin cloth pants. At around midnight, I was placed in a "holding cell" in the "booking" area. This room was about ten feet by ten feet, with an L-shaped, concrete bench formed along two walls, about 24 inches wide. A weird stainless-steel "toilet-sink" was in one corner. A working, though dysfunctional, phone was on the wall. There was nothing else in the room but a bit of toilet paper.
The outside temperature was less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The holding cell has a ceiling fan or ventilator outlet blowing cold air downwards. It felt colder than the air outside. I began shivering and trying to warm myself up. After about two hours of this, a "corrections officer" called me up to a counter. He presented me with a one-page form to sign. STANDISH was printed on a metal plate attached to his shirt.
The first part of the form was an accurate listing of my confiscated personal property. The second part contained language to the effect of: "I hereby consent to medical testing and treatment" and other.* I did not consent to that then or now. I began crossing out the parts of this section that I would not consent to. I had not yet finished and initialed these corrections before STANDISH went ballistic. He jerked the form out from under my hand and said something curt which I do not recall. He placed me back in the holding cell.
I tried to lie down and to sleep on the concrete bench. It was so cold that it sucked the heat right out of my body, while the cold air outlet above blew over the top of me. I have had more than one near-death experience with hypothermia. I know the onset, the symptoms, and the feel of it all too well. My core temperature was dropping.
About 4:00 AM, STANDISH called me back up to the counter for a second go at it. He said "you'll want to get booked in so you can get moved upstairs. They have beds and blankets there." I told him I do not consent to medical testing and treatment. He became angry and distraught. He immediately escorted me back to the holding cell and stood outside, holding the door. A distressed look came over his face as he stated "this is so we can take care of you in case of emergency" (as if a form had the power to accomplish that). His look then changed to one of rage and he snarled "how dare you mess with my form!" I asked him for a blanket; he said "no" and slammed the door.
It took me awhile to figure this one out — the jailers won't let you get out of jail until you get "booked" into it, part of which is this form. So I was trapped. STANDISH left me there for the rest of the night, and he later departed along with the rest of the shift at 8:00 AM.
Now I was in fear for my life. Now I was trying to not fall asleep. I could feel the first signs of the uncontrollable-shiver stage coming on. I could feel the results of my core temperature dropping further, which is hard to describe to someone who has not experienced this. If I had lain down on that concrete bench, there was a possibility — however remote — that I would die of exposure. The jailers had made it perfectly clear that they would not be of any help whatsoever.
I tried signaling to the new shift people — banging on the little glass window, shouting, waving as they went by, all to no avail. Sometimes they would look over, and then their eyes would slide away. I had no idea how long I would remain there. Around noon, one of them opens the door and says "are you the one who was crossing out sentences in the consent form? I said "yes." He said "do you want to try again with a fresh copy" I said "yes" He said "you're not going to try to change it again are you?" I said "no" and so complied. They got their "confession."
*I received a copy of the sacred form. The following is the second of the two-part consent form verbatim:
"Medical Services Statement: Regular sick call is held Monday through Friday though emergency care can be requested at any time by contacting a corrections officer. I understand that I am responsible for the costs of my medical care while I am a prisoner here but that necessary care will not be denied due to inability to pay. I hereby consent to medical examinations, tests, and treatment as prescribed by the authorized health care authority and authorize this facility to provide copies of summaries of my jail medical record to attending physicians and/or other institutions to which I may be transferred." (emphasis theirs)
It's even worse than I remembered.
November 10, 2007