Arrested for not possessing a valid driver’s license and held in custody because she couldn’t make bail.
A disturbing story is breaking this morning regarding a 22-year-old mother to a 3-year-old daughter who died in police custody last Tuesday, allegedly due to the failure of local jail officials to provide her with adequate medical attention.
As first reported by Shaun King of the NY Daily News, Symone Nicole Marshall was involved in a gruesome car accident on April 26, which flipped her car over several times before landing in a ditch.
It is unclear when authorities arrived on the scene, or why medical personnel was not dispatched immediately; however we do know that Marshall was held by police for not possessing a valid driver’s license and then taken to the Walker County Jail in Huntsville, Tex., located about an hour north of Houston.
The GoFundMe page setup by her sister, Honey Marshall, details even at her request “police refused to take her to a hospital to be evaluated by professional doctors,”, ultimately resulting in her dying in jail two weeks later “from a blood clot in her lung.”
No autopsy results are known to have been obtained at this time.
In speaking with King, Honey said, “My sister Symone moved to Texas for a fresh start in life a few months ago. She was doing good down there, had a job and was about to buy a house. She’s a beautiful person, never been in trouble before and didn’t deserve this.”
“When I talked to her from jail, she complained that her head was hurting and she kept blacking out,” she added, “I called the jail several times and requested for them to take her to a real hospital and they wouldn’t do so. If they would have done this, her death could have been prevented and my sister would still be here.”
Police and jail officials declined to release information to King regarding the accident or their perceived negligence in providing Marshall adequate medical attention. Marshall’s family added they have not been able to get any relevant information as to what exactly occurred.
Regardless of whether she was being held legitimately, the case strongly seems to corroborate the disastrous impact of the American money bail system, where roughly 500,000 human beings are locked up in jail at any given time solely because they are too poor to make a monetary payment for their release.
Are we content to see this continue? To see a justice system unfairly target the poor with impunity?
Across the country, people accused of minor crimes like Marshall, or Sandra Bland, or Joyce Curnell, are kept in a cage prior to their trial unless the person can pay an arbitrary and often discriminatory amount of money to secure his/her release.
“We didn’t get here by accident,” writes ColorofChange in their petition to reform the bail system, “In the past 20 years, the average bail amount and the number of for-profit bail bond companies have exploded due to the American Bail Coalition’s lobbying efforts within the American legislative Exchange Council.”
“Last month, more than 3,000 ColorofChange members donated to hire a private investigated to investigate systemic racism in Waller County after the tragic death of Sandra Bland. We uncovered a corrupt and possibly illegal bail bond system that played a key role in her death.”
The result of this practice contributes to substantial overcrowding of holding facilities nationwide, resulting in a staff ill-equipped to deal with medical and health needs of its inmates. While over 1,200 people were killed by American police in 2015, there is no definitive list for deaths in police custody, but many estimate the number to be two or three times that of police shootings.
At the time of this writing, no local media outlet has picked up on this story, and that only through social media and the GoFundMe page would this have been brought to our attention is morally reprehensible from both the media and local law enforcement, who would typically issue a press release regarding the incident.
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