- Politics and Social Issues
Jailbird-The Marion County Court Cospiracy
Two of the judges in Marion County, Florida own property directly related to the jail. One judge owns the land the jail is on and collects rent for it. He also owns the farm land next to the jail and uses inmate labor to work it. He then turns around and sells the food back to the jail. Needless to say, defendants fear going before this judge, especially if they appear healthy and fit.
Another judge owns farm land not far from the jail and also uses inmate labor to work it and sells the food to the jail.
Would that be considered crooked?
Marion County Jail
Public Defenders/Pretenders a Joke
I was arrested in Marion County in Dec., 2007. The only charge that I ended up being punished for was drug paraphernalia, a pack of rolling papers, that my boyfriend had already admitted to the officers and judge, belonged to him. In the state of Florida, rolling papers must be in the same package as the tobacco or you can get charged.
I spent 64 days in jail waiting for my arraignment, as we were financially strapped and I was not allowed to go home since I had been arrested. During my incarceration, I had sent at least two letters to my public defender. When we finally went to court, he had no clue who I was or what my charges even were. They had no file on me and must have just thrown out my letters.He actually asked me "Do I represent you?" Gee, I guess not.
I plead out to get out and ended up with what I was told was the "standard sentence", one year probation, two separate classes, drug evaluation, drug screens, fifty community service hours and fines and fees. Something tells me that the "standard sentence" didn't include the 64 days I spent in jail.
I was still forced to pay the public defender I never had.
50 Dollar Cost of Incarceration
When sentencing, Judge Futch and Judge Ritterhoff-Williams order a 50 dollar a day cost of incarceration fee. Sentenced inmates are forced to become trustees and according to the Marion County Sherriff's Office website, trustee inmates saved taxpayers 13,300,325.10 in 2010. Interesting enough, the corrections budget website at marionso.com has been under construction for over a year. We know the government provides the jail money for inmate housing but the figures are unavailable to us. Where is the money going?
Life On The Inside
Jail isn't like you see on TV. Most jails don't have cells anymore. They have pods. A pod offers no privacy. The bunks are spread out side by side next to a small living area. In Marion County, the inmates get to watch each other shower and use the toilets. There is no privacy at all. We were given recreation twice a week in chain link razor wired fenced in area between two buildings. We never saw grass or trees. We had nothing to do but sit on the concrete and look at the wall. We received one newspaper to share every day and a book cart with about 50 books to choose two from every two weeks. We had no TV. In essence they grouped together criminals and kept them bored so that they had nothing to do but talk about themselves and their crimes and influence each other. A lot of girls fought out of boredom.
There was supposed to be 12 step meetings and church, but space was limited so the bullies got to go.
Inmates were always hungry. Only decaf instant coffee and sugar free candy could be bought on the commissary. Inmates with any time lost massive amounts of weight. In 64 days, I lost 28 pounds. The breakfast was either 2 boiled eggs, 1 turkey sausage patty, 1/4 cup of oatmeal and a roll, or maple syrup over corn bread, the same sausage and a roll. Greens with vinegar were served with lunch and dinner. There was also a lot of dehydrated potatoes, mystery meat, plain beans and peas with rice, and ground chicken innards. I traded 90 percent of my trays for sugar free candy, shampoo, and writing materials. I never got a bra and my DD cups went unsupported. I become ill and feverish and had to wait two days for a medical request form because the jail ran out. After submitting the form, I had to wait another three days to see the nurse. Buy then, I had pneumonia.
Some of the COs were abusive. Ms. Cotton would scream at us for hours. I once saw her pepper spray a deaf girl for not following directions. All she got was written up.
I have Bipolar Disorder and although I was in there for 64 days, I wasn't given my medication until 2 weeks before I left, and I was only given 1/3 of a dose of one of three medicines I was supposed to be on.
The scariest thing is that I was recently arrested for obstructing justice after a post traumatic stress disorder flashback. The officer was "sick of the Centers "(the local mental health facility) and didn't want to file the paperwork to Baker Act me, so he arrested me instead. I plead out at first appearance and am now on probation. I could be stuck going back.
Probation-Designed for Failure
The Marion County Probation is run by The Salvation Army Corrections. You are required to call every day between 5 AM and 8 AM to see if your color came up. If it did, and you happen to be at work or getting ready for work, your boss won't be happy, because you will now need to leave for the probation office to pee in a cup. If you are out of town, you'd better find somebody to pee in a cup for. And, you'd better have a money order in your pocket and ready. If you miss your drug screen, you violate.
If you forget to call and your color comes up, you violate.
If your job takes you out of town, you'd better find a new job. If you have an interview scheduled and your color comes up, too bad. But, if you don't work, you violate.
If you don't make much money, you're in trouble. If you don't support your dependents to the "best of your ability" you violate. You are charged up to 55 dollars monthly for drug and alcohol screens. Monthly cost of supervision is 55 dollars. Insurance for community service hours is 40 dollars. Court ordered counseling, classes and evaluations and treatment can start at 70 dollars and run into the thousands. If it is not all paid for one month before your probation is terminated, you violate.
In Marion County, probation is designed for failure.
If you tick off your ex and she calls the cops on you, whether or not you are charged, you violate. If you miss an appointment, you violate. If you fart in the probation office, you violate.
A New Charge
I got arrested again on January 19, 2011. I had a post traumatic stress disorder flashback. I had been diagnosed with PTSD, but had never had a flashback before. I flipped out. I had also been off my Bipolar meds due to lack of insurance or court order. The waiting list at the local mental health center ( The Centers) for those without insurance or a court order was 8 months. I had been off my meds for seven.
My son and my sister tried to have me Baker Acted, hospitalized. The officer's comment was that he was "sick of The Centers", and instead arrested me and charged me with Obstructing an Officer/Resisting Arrest w/o Violence and booked me into the Marion County Jail where I was immediately housed in the crisis stabilization unit under 24 hour surveillance. I was then sentenced to a year probation. Judge Futch told me under no uncertain terms to "stop letting them label you and using that as an excuse not to make something of yourself. Get off your lazy bum and make something of yourself. I'm tired of excuses" Mind you, I've had no contact with this judge before.
I filed an appeal on my case. Probation told me to file a supersedeas bond to have my probation suspended pending appeal. I did, and returned home to Naples, Florida. What I should have filed was a request to suspend sentence pending appeal. I didn't know this. I filed a paper requesting the services of a public defender, but it took them two months to call me. By then, I had a warrant out for my arrest for violation of probation. I served 90 days in jail and am ordered to pay a 9,000 fine and a 50 dollar a day cost of incarceration fee, despite the fact that I worked the entire time I was incarcerated.
It's hard to believe that in this day and age, a judicial system can be so crooked and nothing gets done to stop it.