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homeless victim
Homeless man beaten by cops.
PHOTO /MIKE RHODES

By Mike Rhodes

The Fresno police department has finally identified the officers who were captured on videotape in the February beating of a homeless man. But the department has been slow in proceeding with its promised investigation of the police beating. Glen Beaty, meantime, remains in jail on charges of violating parole.

On February 9 Beaty, who witnesses say was sleeping under a tree, was awakened by two Fresno Police officers. A video recording of the incident shows one officer holding him on the ground while the other officer repeatedly punched him in the face. The two officers finally have been identified as Jeff Gross, a seven year veteran and Scott Payn, who has 10 years with the police department. Their names were released in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. ACLU attorney Michael Risher said “we’re glad that the city finally, after three months of illegal delay, released the names of the officers involved in the Beaty incident. But it is unfortunate that it took a lawsuit to get the government to follow the law. It’s also unfortunate that the city is still refusing to abandon its illegal policy of refusing to obey the clear deadlines of the Public Records Act. As a result, this lawsuit, which should not have been necessary in the first place, is still far from over.”

Meanwhile, Beaty was recently in Fresno Superior Court for a placement hearing to determine what happens to him next. He’s been in jail for over three months on charges of allegedly violating parole. Peter Kapetan, Beaty’s attorney, said “the jail assessment team has determined that Mr. Beaty be held in a secure facility until he is restored to competency. What the court asked is that he is voluntarily willing to take medication and Mr. Beaty will not commit to that until he knows what the medication is. So, the court has appointed a psychiatrist to advise the court as to what psychiatric medications they think Mr. Beaty should be taking.”

Beaty was found mentally incompetent to assist his attorney on charges of violating his parole. No charges have been filed against him or the officers in connection with the February 9th police beating. Kapetan, Beaty’s attorney, laid out what the next likely step is: “well, next the doctor is going to make a recommendation as to what type of psychiatric medication they believe Mr. Beaty should be given and then he will be sent to a secure mental facility where they can actually force the medication on him if he does not voluntarily comply.”

An investigation by the Fresno Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigation has now been completed but they refuse to release the results. What do they have to hide? The latest smoke and mirror ploy by Dyer is to announce that he wants the FBI to investigate the incident.

While these investigations are underway, being covered up, or not being carried out at all, Glen Beaty waits in jail. The court is in the process of forcing him to take drugs (which could turn him into a zombie), his attorney expects him to be sent to a state mental institution, and we don’t know if he will ever be heard from again.

Legal observers suggest Beaty will be offered a deal — don’t file a civil lawsuit against the police or the City of Fresno and all of this will go away and you will be a free man.






prisoner artwork

By Jose Heladio Villarreal
         
The prison population in the U.S. has reached dangerous levels. Here in California where prison overcrowding is a major issue, Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger has even spoken of releasing hundreds of inmates early to relieve overcrowding.

With over two million prisoners in this country, the U.S. leads the world in having the most prisoners. Looking at the problem from its inner core (in prison) I can see that there is no program for “rehabilitation” for most prisoners and what this does is increase recidivism, build tension and create a dangerous environment. This will only increase the overcrowding and cost taxpayers more money to continue housing inmates.

Building more prisons will make the economic meltdown even worse and with California’s debt growing by the year, there seems no end in sight. Latinos and Blacks together account for about one quarter of the U.S. population, but more than half of the jail and prison population. The disproportionate numbers reveal serious problems in our society.

There has been a rise in senior citizens committing crimes. Some point to the decaying and crumbling of the capitalist economy, stagnant minimum wage and non-living wages as reasons for the spike in incarceration. Children have now become the latest casualty to the prison system’s vise grip, with the U.S. handing out sentences of life without the possibility of parole to some children aged 14-18. In terms of morality it makes no sense for a 15-year old not to be allowed to drink alcohol or operate a vehicle because of irresponsibility as kids yet we can send them to prison for life for making bad choices.

For the most part, the California prison boom has developed from surpluses of finance capital. Private prisons are a very lucrative business, so much so that private prisons are springing up across the nation like fast food franchises. In order to reduce this “super sized prison system” one has to look to the underlying reasons behind crime. The person committing the petty theft or robbery often has substance abuse addictions and thus steals to obtain money to purchase his/her stimulant. The violent person often has mental health issues. So people often get arrested for these crimes without knowledge of the cause and a person gets thrown in a cell for a couple of years and released to continue this cycle.

If we want to reduce the prison system and crime, prisoners need treatment while in prison; more social workers are needed to treat the addiction or illness. Education and job training is needed so when one is released he/she will have the skills to support themselves. Minimum wage in California in particular cannot give one enough to live on.

The root cause of crime in America needs to be examined. It’s evident that the social engineers who work for the capitalist society will not define nor remedy the root causes of crime, so the people must examine this situation themselves. A fresh approach must be taken in order to be truly effective.


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