[Mb-civic] Justice for a 'Death of Neglect' - Colbert I. King -
swiggard at comcast.net
Sat Sep 17 06:50:21 PDT 2005
Justice for a 'Death of Neglect'
By Colbert I. King
Saturday, September 17, 2005; Page A21
Next Tuesday marks the first anniversary of 27-year-old Jonathan
Magbie's final encounter with the D.C. government. It will be no cause
It was on Sept. 20, 2004, that D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin
sentenced Magbie, a quadriplegic since an accident at age 4, to 10 days
in the D.C. jail. His crime? Possession of marijuana.
Five days after falling into the hands of the D.C. government, Magbie
was dead. He died a horrible death. It was preventable. But nobody in
the system cared.
Looking down from her bench, Retchin saw a first-time offender. He
controlled his wheelchair with a mouth-operated device. He could breathe
only with a battery-controlled pulmonary pacemaker. At night he needed
the assistance of a respirator. He could have been sentenced to home
detention, where he would have had round-the-clock attention. Instead,
Retchin, apparently upset when Magbie refused to swear off weed, which
helped him get through a miserable existence, sent him to that
taxpayer-supported hellhole near the Anacostia River known as the D.C. jail.
What happened to Magbie at the jail and at Greater Southeast Community
Hospital, where his life ended five days later, shouldn't happen to a
dog. In fact, it doesn't happen to dogs and cats in the custody of
decent and caring people. But Magbie had no one in his corner except his
mother, Mary Scott, and she could not join him in jail. In the
intervening 12 months, the continuum of players responsible for Magbie's
last days on Earth has never had it so good.
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