Target: Peter Simonson, Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union
Goal: Support efforts to keep law enforcement officials from physically violating and harming prisoners.
The drug war in America is a longstanding problem that has caused law enforcement across the country to crack down on criminals who illegally traffic drugs across borders. However, in an effort to keep citizens safe, we forget that these individuals have rights too. And in New Mexico, an outbreak of physical violations against prisoners has reached an all-time high.
Reports have revealed that detention centers are engaging in forced anal probes, enemas and colonoscopies, but the most extreme story is that of a female inmate named Marlene Tapia. Tapia suffered for weeks from burning, swelling and painful urination, after a corrections officer strip-searched her and sprayed mace directly onto her genitals, twice. The corrections officer alleged that a plastic bag was protruding from Tapia’s vagina when she engaged in a routine strip-search for a probation violation. Instead of sending Tapia to a doctor to have it removed, the officers forcibly removed the bag and sprayed Tapia with the chemical agent.
Peter Simonson, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the crime ‘…[a] tantamount to torture…’ While civil rights cases are very complicated to build, Marlene Tapia’s story is particularly hard to ignore. Law enforcement in New Mexico are known for their brutal and invasive attacks against inmates, convicts and citizens. Recently, a man named David Eckert was pulled over for making a rolling stop at a stop sign, and ‘appeared nervous’ and ‘too alert,’ prompting officers to subject him to an x-ray, digital anal penetration scan, enema and colonoscopy for drugs. They suspected that he’d been taking drugs, or was hiding them, but failed to find any.
All of these actions, performed without the consent of those suspected or convicted, are in direct violation of basic Constitutional rights. In Tapia’s case, they are a violation of jail policy as well. Simonson, who has taken it upon himself to represent Marlene, isn’t seeking compensation. Instead he’s fighting to make sure that ‘…our country’s Constitutional freedoms and protections apply to everybody — including the people accused of a crime.’
By signing this petition you’ll urge the law enforcement of New Mexico to stop these demoralizing acts against citizens and prisoners and support Simonson’s efforts to protect the rights of the convicted.
Dear Peter Simonson,
I am writing you today to thank you for your valorous efforts to represent Marlene Tapia’s case as an example of a breach in basic Constitutional rights and inhumanity. These demoralizing and violating procedures need to be highlighted, as law enforcement in New Mexico abuse their power and have resorted to extreme measures to keep citizens safe from illegal drugs.
We forget that convicted individuals, inmates and those with a criminal record are still human beings, no matter what the criminalizing act. If they make an effort to be compliant, regardless of their charge, then law enforcement should make an effort to observe their rights.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: kathycsus