It’s fall and we have a new house in Sacramento! I won’t be living there full time but at least I can come up and hang-out now – for at least as long as the kiddo can handle me. It’s just a bus ride away from court so I’m ready baby. Bring it on!
Ever since the last hearing in August, I’ve been thinking a lot about the health and well-being of DeAngelo. He has lost considerable weight. Enough, in my humble opinion, to make me wonder if he’s getting enough nutrition to stay coherent. I have no idea if he’s eating and what he’s eating. I realize he has very little to live for, but at a minimum there are three daughters who deserve to work through this with him. And at least one grandchild. His legacy will haunt them for the rest of their lives; he should at least make time for them. To my knowledge, this hasn’t happened. But if it has, good. They deserve answers.
The DOJ said, “that two primary causes for jail suicide exist: (1) jail environments are conducive to suicidal behavior and (2) the inmate is facing a crisis situation. From the inmate’s perspective, certain features of the jail environment enhance suicidal behavior: fear of the unknown, distrust of an authoritarian environment, perceived lack of control over the future, isolation from family and significant others, shame of incarceration, and perceived dehumanizing aspects of incarceration.” read more
Whose responsibility is his health and well-being?
It’s interesting, I’ve been asking this question of lots of people, but I never get the same answer. Some say it’s the jail. Some say it’s a medical professional. Some have pointed to the District Attorney (in this case, Sacramento’s since he’s lodged in their county jail). Others have said it’s his attorneys’ job. Here’s the code on imprisonment, it goes on forever, but I can’t find the part where someone actually owns responsibility. It seems as though it’s up to someone, at some point, to decide he needs medical help. My issue is, without clear definition, this seems woefully ambiguous. The easiest way to ask the question (especially in a post-Epstein world), who will be held accountable if he dies or suffers mental decline? Seems like we should have a name.
Is it ethical to let him starve or choose to starve himself?
I have been searching for an ethicist with whom I could discuss this topic, but I’ve had no luck. In fact, in doing a quick survey of the literature I could find online, this issue hasn’t even been academically tackled in a long time. Most articles are from the last century or early 2000s. I feel like maybe we are all in denial about this. (Author Al Tompkins has written a good article about suicide in jails – versus prisons – in August of 2019. Interesting read.)
So without outside help, you get to think about this with me: he has not been convicted. He’s a suspect and while we (The People) are detaining him based on good evidence, he’s still – theoretically – innocent and entrusted to our care as an un-convicted suspect. Do we owe him more because of this? Do we have a duty to keep him from hurting himself, or more importantly, to keep him cognitively sound until he has a trial? What if he was allowed to starve, stop getting nutrition and then claim he’s mentally unsound for trial? Who worries about that besides me?
If he dies without conviction, what would that mean?
For me, it’s easy. The minute my District Attorney told me it was a 100% DNA match to what was found in Charlene, I knew we had the right guy. I don’t need a trial or all the other claptrap. He’s guilty in my mind and I’m good. But for many, they want to see him convicted. I’ve had some survivors tell me they wish they’d simply prosecute Ventura – because it’s pretty open and shut – so at least he’s been found guilty of that crime. It’s absolutely possible that he won’t make it long enough to stand trial for all the crimes for which he’s charged. I bet there are odds somewhere. Many might feel cheated if he dies without a conviction.
For others, they want a chance to confront him. They have waited a lifetime to have their moment in court. It’s bad enough most of the rape victims won’t get to face him, but several will that have the kidnapping charge as part of their crime. While they struggle to deal with the idea of testifying, there is some comfort in knowing they got to face him in court. It would be awful to cheat them of this.
For a long time, confronting him wasn’t even on my radar. But over the months, I’ve changed. Now I do want to see him sit at the defense table and face his accusers. I won’t be an accuser, I won’t be testifying, but I can vicariously experience that confrontation. All I know is right now, it’s very unsatisfying not to be able to speak to him. It’s one of our most human traits and yet, it’s simply not allowed. I suppose I should consider that a gift. I’m pretty sure nothing decent would come out of my mouth.
Sacramento County, please don’t mess this up.
I’ll continue to ask questions and seek to understand. I hope there is someone in Sacramento County who is taking responsibility for DeAngelo’s physical and mental health. At this point, his work here is not done. He might think taking the easy way out is his best option, but no. He still has work to do. He needs to sit with himself as he wastes in jail. He needs to have the awareness that we know him now and live with the consequences.
He has a duty to his family. He has a duty to his victims. He has a duty to everyone who lived in fear because of his horrendous behavior.