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Attorney describes civil liberties violations and “deplorable conditions” faced by jailed Baltimore protesters

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Below is a first-person account by an attorney at the Office of the Public Defender describing what she found when she went into Central Booking and interviewed women arrested in connection with Monday’s riots. Police last night announced that 101 of the 250 people arrested were being released without charges.

I’m going to try to keep this as brief as I can to give you the shocking highlights. As much as I’d like to, I can’t describe the particulars of some of the more egregious arrests, due to attorney/client privilege issues, but I would like to describe the civil liberties violations and the deplorable conditions which people have had to endure.

As many of you know, more than 250 people have been arrested since Monday here in Baltimore. Normally when you are arrested, you are given a copy of your charging documents and then you must see a commissioner within 24 hours for a bail determination (“prompt presentment”) and given a trial date.

If you are not released after the commissioner hearing, you will be brought before a judge for a review of the bail set by the commissioner.

None of this was happening, so we sent some lawyers to Central Booking Tuesday to try to help. I heard, however, that only two commissioners showed up, and the correctional officers only brought about nine people to be interviewed because the jail was on a mysterious “lock-down.”

Detained for over 24 Hours

Today [Wednesday] we were divided into two groups. Some of the lawyers were assigned the task of actually doing judicial bail reviews for as many folks as they could get interviewed and docketed. I was assigned to the other group. We were the “habeas team,” and we were to interview folks that we felt were being illegally detained, so we could file writs of habeas corpus.

Governor Hogan had issued an executive order, extending the time for prompt presentment to 47 hours. We believed that this order was invalid because the governor has no authority to alter the Maryland Rules. As a result, all people who were being detained for more than 24 hours without seeing a commissioner were being held illegally.

Knowing all of this, I was still not prepared for what I saw when I arrived.

The small concrete booking cells were filled with hundreds of people, most with more than 10 people per cell. Three of us were sent to the women’s side where there were up to 15 women per holding cell.

“They were brought to Central Booking via paddy wagons – most without seat belts, a real shocker after all that’s happened – and taken to holding cells without ever being charged with an actual crime.”

Most of them had been there since Monday afternoon/evening. With the exception of three or four women, the women who weren’t there for Monday’s round-ups were there for curfew violations.

Many had not seen a doctor or received required medication. Many had not been able to reach a family member by phone. But here is the WORST thing: not only had these women been held for two days and two nights without any sort of formal booking, but almost none of them had actually been charged with anything.

Read the rest here: https://www.baltimorebrew.com/2015/04/30/attorney-describes-civil-liberties-violations-and-deplorable-conditions-faced-by-jailed-baltimore-protesters/

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