Incarceration Should Not Mean Humiliation

by Kerry Dougherty

Hang onto your wallets, Portsmouth. A lawsuit filed Friday in Circuit Court is seeking $1 million in damages due to alleged misconduct by a sheriff’s deputy. Oh, and another $350,000 in punitive damages.

The conduct – if it happened – was atrocious.

According to court papers filed by a former inmate, Danaesha Martin, a sheriff’s deputy on May 2, 2022 forced her to disrobe to prove she was actually having her menstrual period when she requested sanitary products.

If true, this is sick. Sadistic, too.

No matter the crime, incarceration should not be accompanied by humiliation. Treating inmates like animals should not be part of the criminal justice system. Jailers are supposed to behave better than the people behind bars.

According to a story in the Virginia Mercury, an email that was circulated to the staff in the Portsmouth jail after the accusations surfaced seems to lend credibility to Martin’s claim:

Portsmouth City Jail Chief Deputy of Jail Operations Lt. Col. Dorothy Dildy-Clemons wrote deputies shortly after the alleged May 2 incident that “at no time are you to ask female inmates to pulled [sic] down their pants and undergarments to visually see if they are on their cycle.

‘This can become a PREA issue that can escalate into a lawsuit,’ wrote Dildy-Clemons, presumably referring to the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. ‘This is to stop immediately, expeditiously!!!’

Dildy-Clemons noted in the same email that the jail had “plenty” of sanitary products and directed deputies to log the names of inmates receiving such products and the quantity used.

The city insists this is not an admission of wrongdoing by jail officials, simply a warning that this practice is wrong.

“This is to stop immediately. Expeditiously.”

Sounds like an admission to me.

Martin has accused one specific deputy, referred to as Katherine Adams, Catherine Adams or K. Adams in her lawsuit. If it turns out this or any other deputy engaged in such raunchy behavior, they should be sacked.

Martin was being held in the jail on charges of malicious wounding and conspiracy to commit malicious wounding, but the charges against her were later dropped.

In the meantime, The Mercury reports that she’s been sentenced to 10 years in prison on conviction stemming from the shooting death of her cousin in Iowa.

Sounds like Martin isn’t an angel.

So what? That doesn’t mean she should be treated like a subhuman.

Good thing Portsmouth is rolling in dough right now, thanks to the new casino. Chances are, the city’s going to need it.

Republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited.