91 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 87 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/21/15

Time to ban "rough rides"

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   4 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Robert Weiner
Become a Fan
  (5 fans)

Originally Published in The Baltimore Sun

By Robert Weiner and Sylvienne Staines

Inside of Police van, used to transport prisoners
Inside of Police van, used to transport prisoners
(Image by Rob Kall)
  Details   DMCA

The federal, state, and local reports on police abuse reform present a host of actions needed, including training, body cameras and improved vetting of officers. But thus far, no one has called for an outright ban on "rough rides." Apparently, innocent until proven guilty does not apply to the back of a prison van; there is no innocence to be found inside its metal interior, which has bruised and broken many a prisoner.

In Baltimore alone, at least five people have suffered severe injury once locked inside the moving cell; one person was left a paraplegic and another a quadriplegic, before both died from complications from their injuries. Collectively, juries awarded the families $46.4 million, (this number was reduced due to a settlement and state laws that cap such payouts).

Now comes the case of Freddie Gray, who died inside a Baltimore police van in April, at a time of heightened racial tensions and a blanketed discontent for law enforcement around the country because of recent minority deaths in cities including Ferguson, Cleveland, Staten Island and elsewhere.

Gray's case has incited nationwide attention specifically to rough rides and the police culture that allows them to occur. While it has not been proven that Gray was subject to a rough ride, it's been widely acknowledged that whatever "happened [to him] happened inside the van," as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake put it. And Gray's death and the ensuing riots in Baltimore have provided enough momentum to lead to an official policy against rough rides, both locally and federally. Police departments across the country, including in two Maryland counties, are already considering changes to their prisoner transport regulations, including adding traditional seatbelts, interior cameras and padded seats in vans.

Those changes skirt the issue of police behavior, however.

A form of rough ride is when the driver of the van slams on the breaks so a prisoner, often shackled and not wearing a seatbelt, is jolted forward, ramming into the enforced divider that separates the officers from the prisoners, causing injuries ranging from broken bones to paralysis. The incidents are common enough to have numerous slang terms -- including "screen test" and "bringing them up front" -- yet Vince Canales, president of the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police, told ThinkProgress he is unaware of the practice. It sounds like the union head should interview more police, or simply check what generated the massive settlements.

Mr. Canales further said that no police practices should be blanketly banned, but that they should instead be reviewed on a "case by case" basis. That kind of protection of the police culture is part of the problem. Of course there must be a standard policy: Specifically, rough rides must be ended. They are mean-spirited, immoral and immature punishment without trial -- with a deadly potential.

At Rikers Island in New York, the police jokingly call rough rides "bus therapy." A New York Times investigation on brutality in the prison found that for Jose Bautista, an inmate at Rikers serving time for a misdemeanor, what was supposed to be a 15 minute ride took close to 9 hours. He suffered perforated bowels leaked into his abdomen, leaving him in crippling pain and clinging to life. No guard was punished, not even the guards that inflicted the injury.

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the driver of Freddie Gray's van, has been charged with "depraved-heart" second-degree murder. In other words, prosecutors believe he didn't care about hurting the victim.

Rough rides are morally wrong; they devalue human lives and disgrace the the criminal justice system.

Simply put, they must be banned.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 1   Supported 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Robert Weiner Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Robert Weiner, NATIONAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND ISSUES STRATEGIST Bob Weiner, a national issues and public affairs strategist, has been spokesman for and directed the public affairs offices of White House Drug Czar and Four Star General Barry (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why Do Conservatives Vote Against Their Own Interest?

Jeb Bush's Elephant in the Room: Role in Bush v. Gore Recount

Mueller's End Game: Maybe As Soon As Trump Wants, But Not How He'd Like

Food Stamp Myth Busting

Iran: Nuclear Weapons or Peaceful Energy?

Bad money vs. bad money -- how Denver ballot measure could be blueprint for getting money out of politics

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend