A federal judge has ordered Santa Rita jailers to stop unnecessarily disrupting the sleep of female prisoner for “pill call” at 2:30 a.m. and breakfast at 4 a.m.
“No one can argue with the proposition that detainees with medical needs should get their prescription, but why 2:30 a.m.?” U.S. District Judge James Donato commented. He added that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office offered no justification for breakfast at 4 a.m.
He ordered the Santa Rita jail to stop waking up fe- male prisoners needlessly because it deprives them of a basic human need, according to the Washington Post.
Donato noted sleep deprivation has been found to be cruel and unusual punishment for those duly convicted of crimes, and stressed that these women have not ever been to trial.
Pretrial detainee Tikisha Upshaw said, “There are days when I can barely stay awake during the day time…I cannot problem solve. I can’t remember things people have told me.”
After lights go out at 11 p.m., sheriff deputies check on detainees’ welfare every 30 minutes to see if they’re alive.
Deputies have been accused of shining flashlights directly in the faces of the prisoners during this half- hour welfare check The Post reported.
The women said that “if they try… covering their head with a blanket or covering the (night) light, the deputies either bang on their cells so they remove the blanket or will write them up…”
Donato acknowledged the welfare checks are legitimate, and found that the sheriff’s office tries to minimize disruptions, but the plaintiffs dispute this.
There are also disturbances from cleaning, ongoing maintenance, intercom announcements, and doors opening and shutting.
Upshaw said all she was asking for in the suit was “the opportunity to get enough sleep to be alert for my trial.”
“When the state takes a person into custody for any reason, the Constitution imposes a duty to provide for the detainee’s basic human needs,” Donato wrote. “Conditions of confinement that deprive detainees of those needs…violate the Constitution.”