Maurice Monk was arrested for making threats to two bus drivers on the same day. Both told Monk he would need to put on a mask. After his arrest, Monk spent two months at a mental hospital. He missed an October court date regarding the charges. Monk was then placed in Santa Rita Jail, Alameda County. And there he died—one of two such deaths in the jail last week.
Brendon woods, Alameda County Public Defender, stated to local television station KTVUFOX2 that “there is absolutely no reason the court would hold Mr. Monk in a prison cell” when Monk has been suffering from mental illness for failing to appear on a scheduled court date.
Monk had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He also suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes. KTVU heard from his sister that Haldol was not available to him because of bureaucratic hurdles. An attempt to lower his bail to $2,500 was denied by a judge. The Sheriff’s Office described the death as natural causes.
Santa Rita Jail can be dangerous. At least 45 people were killed in their custody in that jail in the first half of this decade. Elizabeth Nolan Brown reported from There is a reasonCheck out the terrible record this prison has with pregnancies.
Monk’s tragic fate is indicative of the tragedy in our penal system. Jails or prisons can prove to be extremely dangerous and people end up in them often for the most innocuous reasons. This sometimes makes it more difficult to maintain financial control and keep pace with system procedures. All too often, this combination has resulted in people being taken into custody without their consent. If you don’t want to risk someone dying, it is best not to pass legislation that calls for prison.