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The Degree of Civilization in a Society

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On March 17, 2013, Christopher Lopez took his last breath at 9:08 AM, stripped and shackled, face down on a cement floor in San Carlos Correctional Facility, while his jailers joked and made chit-chat. During Mr.Lopez’s videotaped death, which began at 3:30 AM, guards subjected him to a forceful cell extraction even though he was limp. When they placed the spit hood over his head and shackled him in the disciplinary transport chair, he slumped to one side and had a grand mal seizure. Without performing any mental health assessment whatsoever, they returned Mr. Lopez to his cell, placed him on the cement next to the toilet, and injected him with two psychotropic drugs.

“Is it lunch already?” the guard asks, followed by inaudible conversation.

“He could swallow his teeth, I don’t care…”

A guard proclaims, “He didn’t even piss on himself, so he’s not seizing.” “What’s he doing now?” a female supervisor asks. “Smells like he peed all over the place,” a man replies. “Is he still on the floor?” “Yeah.” “He likes it on the floor.” “I like him on the floor.” “Yeah, he likes it alright when he’s on the floor.” Laughter ensues. “Isn’t that terrible?”

While the staff makes fun of him, Mr. Lopez’s breathing changes to that of a fish out of water. When his breathing stops and he dies, the on-call mental-health clinician outside the cell door speaks through the window and asks the body, “What are you doing? Why are you doing this?” “What’s wrong? Don’t you like it on Three Right?” She inexplicably adds, “I can see you breathing.” She also tells the corpse, “Open your eyes,” and then she amazingly says, “Good.”

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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