On July 2, Eric Perez celebrated his eighteenth birthday. On July 10, his family mourned his untimely death.
Mr. Perez suffered a medical emergency while being held at a detention center in Florida. Despite vomiting and crying for help, Mr. Perez was left to suffer for over six hours before receiving medical attention. Tragically, by the time he was seen by emergency personnel, it was too late. So what was Mr. Perez doing in a detention center to begin with? The non-violent act of possessing a small amount of marijuana.
On the night of July 9, police stopped Mr. Perez for riding his bicycle without a night-light. Police searched Mr. Perez and found the marijuana. Mr. Perez was on probation for a “years old” robbery charge and was cuffed and sent to a detention center. It was in this detention center that he breathed his last breath.
I don’t know the exact details of the detention center where Eric Perez died, but if it’s anything like the Miami mega-jail then his death comes as no great surprise. Between our ridiculous drug-war policies which send otherwise law-abiding citizens to overcrowded and dangerous detention centers and prisons, and the real risk of sexual abuse and other violence in our incarceration facilities, we are placing far too many Americans in harms way.
More on the state of American prisons and mass incarceration here.
Image: A sketch of a typical jail cell in the Miami mega-jail.