DC Jail Stay Ends in Death For Quadriplegic Md Man

DC Jail Stay Ends in Death For Quadriplegic Md Man
Posted by CN Staff on October 01, 2004 at 08:18:42 PT
By Henri E. Cauvin, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post 
Jonathan Magbie, a 27-year-old Mitchellville man, was sent to jail in the District last week for 10 days for marijuana possession. He never made it home. Paralyzed as a child and unable to even breathe on his own, Magbie died last Friday after being shuttled between the D.C. jail complex and Greater Southeast Community Hospital.
At the center of the many questions surrounding his death is whether D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Department of Corrections did enough to ensure adequate care for the quadriplegic inmate. An investigation is underway, but that is little solace to his family, which marched on the courthouse this week with signs accusing the judge of killing Magbie. "I'm not saying that he shouldn't have been punished, because he did smoke the marijuana," his mother, Mary Scott, said yesterday, a day after burying her son. "I just don't think it should have cost him his life."By the standards of D.C. Superior Court, the 10-day sentence rendered by Judge Judith E. Retchin was unusually punitive for a first-time offender such as Magbie. Along with his defense attorney, Boniface Cobbina, a pre-sentence report had recommended probation, and the U.S. attorney's office had not objected. But Retchin rejected probation alone. A former federal prosecutor who became a Superior Court judge in 1992, Retchin is known to dispense stiff sentences.Police, she pointed out, found a gun and cocaine in the vehicle in which Magbie was stopped in April 2003. And, despite pleading guilty to the marijuana charge, Magbie told pre-sentence investigators that he would continue using the drug, which he said made him feel better."Mr. Magbie, I'm not giving you straight probation," the judge said, according to a transcript of the Sept. 20 proceedings. "Although you did not plead guilty to having this gun, it is just unacceptable to be riding around in a car with a loaded gun in this city."Details about Magbie's death were first reported by WJLA-TV (Channel 7). Magbie was struck by a drunk driver when he was 4 years old; he was paralyzed from the neck down, and his growth was stunted. Barely five feet tall and 120 pounds, he moved around on a motorized wheelchair that he operated with his chin. For most everything else, from scratching an itch on his head to flushing his lungs of accumulated fluid, he had to rely on others. Along with his family, he had nursing care 20 hours a day. "Jonathan was totally dependent," his mother said. "He couldn't do anything for himself."Asked how her son was able to inhale marijuana, Scott said only that "he learned to do a lot of things." Ahead of Magbie's sentencing, a staff member in Retchin's chambers contacted the office of Chief Judge Rufus G. King III to find out whether the D.C. Corrections Department would be able to house a paralyzed person in a wheelchair. The answer from the chief judge's office, which is the liaison with Corrections, was yes. Leah Gurowitz, a court spokeswoman, said yesterday that the full extent of Magbie's paralysis was inadvertently not relayed to the chief judge's office.In a statement yesterday, Retchin said she was led to believe "that Mr. Magbie's medical needs could be met; this was such an unintended tragedy. I would like to convey my deepest sympathy to Mr. Magbie's family."Even the Correctional Treatment Facility, a jail annex that houses many inmates with medical or security needs, would not have been able to readily care for a prisoner such as Magbie, Philip Fornaci, executive director of the D.C. Prisoners' Legal Services Project, said yesterday. "I certainly would not say they killed him or any conclusion like that," Fornaci said. "But it certainly seems likely that he wouldn't have died if he hadn't gone to jail."The initial medical evaluation of Magbie after his arrival at the D.C. jail on Sept. 20 found him in need of "acute medical attention," according to the Corrections Department. Within hours, Magbie was moved to Greater Southeast Community Hospital. The nature of the medical problem was not specified in a chronology issued by the Corrections Department, which declined to make officials available to comment on the specifics of the case. The timeline shows that Magbie arrived at the jail at 2 p.m. and that he was taken to the hospital at 9:40 p.m. What happened in between is not explained. The next day, Magbie was discharged and placed in the Correctional Treatment Facility, the jail annex that is operated by Corrections Corporation of America under a contract with the city. But almost from the moment Magbie arrived there, a senior doctor was concerned that Magbie might not receive the care he needed, according to his mother and a court official.The court official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the doctor believed that Magbie belonged at the hospital and pressed Greater Southeast, which handles inmate hospitalizations, to take him back. But the hospital rebuffed the request, the official said.Hoping to change the hospital's mind, the physician asked Retchin to issue a court order, the official said. But the judge declined, saying she lacked the authority to issue any such order.The hospital said in a statement that it could not comment because of federal privacy regulations. It said that it provides "top-quality" care.Apparently resigned to having him stay on at the jail annex, the medical staff decided after a couple of days of back-and-forth with Magbie's mother and attorney to allow Magbie's mother to bring his ventilator. Told to bring the device down Friday morning, she did, showing up about 10 a.m. A half-hour earlier, she would later learn, her son had been taken by ambulance back to Greater Southeast. That night, she received a call from a warden telling her that her son was dead.Note: Care Provided by Hospital, Corrections Dept. in Question.Complete Title: D.C. Jail Stay Ends in Death For Quadriplegic Md. Man Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Henri E. Cauvin, Washington Post Staff WriterPublished: Friday, October 1, 2004; Page B01 Copyright: 2004 Washington Post Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: CannabisNews Justice Archives
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Comment #26 posted by FoM on October 03, 2004 at 10:51:55 PT
dr slider 
When I went thru a voluntary detox ( 3 days) years ( 94 ) ago from prescription drugs a woman was there while I was there for alcohol. I had a horrible time but she screamed in agony and finally she couldn't take it and signed herself out. She's probably dead now. The councelor said to me that alcohol withdrawal is potentially more deadly then withdrawal from narcotic prescription drugs. From what I saw he is right.
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Comment #25 posted by dr slider on October 03, 2004 at 10:41:39 PT:
Regarding "I want to say something." Alcohol withdrawals at the hands of law enforcement are nothing short of one's worst nightmare. Withdrawal symptoms progress over the years, early on the shakes and aches will go away in a day or five, with little actual danger, eventually, vastly elevated vitals accompany grand mal seizures, delirium tremens (you thought LSD took you "places", its got nothing on DT's slide potential), and potentially death. The days long insomnia insures you are there for the pain. Each cell in the body screams.In most jurisdictions inmates will be screened to determine placement. Letting them know how far along the sliding scale of withdrawal you are is supposed to alert them to the danger. Most often, claims of grand mals or DTs is considered "drug seeking" and you are left to play the odds with your life. From the get, you are placed on cold concrete with or without a mattress, w.or w.o. a blanket and w.or w.o. clothing. In fact as the severity of your symtoms increase so does the likelyhood that you will be in the w.o. club. Once the likelyhood of death is evident chances are good you with be thrown naked into a cold and bare concrete cell or strapped (4 corners) to a gurney, where you alternate between wishing for death and being afraid of it.
This they call medical treatment for alcoholism. While I have admiration for "high bottom" drunks, they know nothing of the pain and degredation the least of my brothers go through, and for having seen I am grateful. For having found the tree of life that will set my people free I am obligated:STOP THE BARBARITYFREE THE CANNABIS
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Comment #24 posted by Dankhank on October 02, 2004 at 15:56:04 PT
call now
the number works area code 202"How in the world can you consider yourself a human being?Jonathon Magbie, you killed him, you killed him, you killed him, you killed him, you killed him, you are a murderer."gist of my message waiting on her voicemail.
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Comment #23 posted by Max Flowers on October 02, 2004 at 15:38:10 PT
It's the duty of all of us never let this horrible excuse for a human being, this so-called judge, this killer, this ruthless, evil woman forget what she has done and how it makes we, the general public, feel and what it has done to the victim's family. We need to keep the name Jonathan Magbie alive in her mind, pestering her and torturing her and to keep his name and memory fresh as a constant reminder of what the system will do to even the most helpless and innocent of citizens.Here is her phone number at court, as far as I could research: (proper D.C. area code) 879-1866 ...this may be outdated, so someone in the D.C. area please try to confirm this.
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Comment #22 posted by Patrick on October 01, 2004 at 22:55:26 PT
Serious national attention
This story begs for national attention. To send a man paralyzed below the neck to jail? For what? He can't steal, he can't rob, obviously he couldn't shoot a gun if he drove his wheelchair with his chin. What can he really do in this life without the aid of others. PARALYZED PEOPLE!!!! The State, We the People, This freak of a judge sent him to jail??? My God, oh he smoked marijuana give him ten days in jail? Like his whole life wasn't a jail in a useless paralyzed body. The only thing this bitch of a judge could possibly be thinking was to jail his mind. It's another sad day. If John Edwards doesn't make it to the White House he ought to represent this family against the U.S. Government. What was this judge thinking? My deepest regards to Mr. Magbie's surviving family members.
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on October 01, 2004 at 22:32:22 PT
A Related Article I Just Posted
An Inmate's Death:
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Comment #20 posted by Hope on October 01, 2004 at 22:13:54 PT
We've got to get letters to the Post.Please guys. 
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on October 01, 2004 at 22:05:42 PT
Legal Terrorism!
These people wouldn't know a terrorist if they were looking at one in the mirror. But I can guarantee...they would be looking at one.They have no soul. 
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Comment #18 posted by Hope on October 01, 2004 at 21:56:53 PT
It's sickening
And they won't do anything. They'll just keep on with narry a shred of conscience to slow them down.That Judge probably went out tonight. She probably went to a cocktail party with others of her kind. They made have said, "Wasn't that a shame?" and "You poor thing." to the judge. They'll go to bed on their Stearns and Foster mattresses and sleep well. They'll wake up to their well appointed kitchens and enjoy a cup of specially blended and freshly ground coffee and perhaps head to the country club for a few rounds of golf and an afternoon at the spa.They will ignore any outrage on the part of the serfs and poor Johnathan Magbie will be forgotten faster than Charity and Veronica Bowers, or Albert Sepulveda, Rainbow Farm, and countless other blood and lives lost to their money machine. Animal cruelty draws more indignation from the public than Mr. Magbie's death at the hands of this judge and these laws will.After all, he broke a law. He shouldn't have done that. He should have known better. He was in the wrong. Right?
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Comment #17 posted by Robbie on October 01, 2004 at 21:52:06 PT
I fear for the future of this country
The pledge of the righteous is to the sick and dying. How could we let this drug thing get in the way of our conscience? The Drug war is all about two things: morals (so-called) and money. Legislating morality must be abolished. Economic slavery and terrorism towards a different culture must be stopped. This man died because he was not allowed the dignity to make choices for himself. Our society is in decline, and we'd better get a hold of it.
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on October 01, 2004 at 21:29:01 PT
I Want To Say Something
This is a very upsetting story. I don't know how to say what I feel because I don't know how to put it in words. Something has bothered me for a long time about jails and prisons. People get in trouble for different reasons and have to go to jail. What bothers me is the health of those who have to go to jail and how important it is to give them medical care. They aren't supposed to die in jail. If a person is addicted to a narcotic and no one cares that person can die while in jail. The same for someone addicted to alcohol. Death can happen and no one should be denied care. I can only imagine the pain someone goes thru withdrawing from hard drugs legal or illegal in jail. Don't they know that in itself can kill someone who is incarcerated? That is totally inhumane to me.
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Comment #15 posted by Hope on October 01, 2004 at 20:46:32 PT
How many more martyrs?
How many more inhumane and wrongful deaths at the hands of the State?How many more before they end this hideous wickedness?How many more?
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Comment #14 posted by rchandar on October 01, 2004 at 19:22:00 PT:
shame, shame, shame...
This is just another example of persecuting the innocent, treating them like the scum of the earth when compassion and love need most to be shown. Shame! My condolences to the family.--rchandar
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Comment #13 posted by BGreen on October 01, 2004 at 16:35:33 PT
Jonathan Magbie Died In A Private Prison
For-profit private prisons have always seemed like a scary proposition to me and the MURDER of Jonathan Magbie by Judge Judith E. Retchin, Greater Southeast Community Hospital and Corrections Corporation of America under a contract with the city of Washington D.C. proves I was right to be afraid.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #12 posted by mayan on October 01, 2004 at 15:59:58 PT
Peter McWilliams
He was murdered in similar fasion. I wouldn't want to be a prohibitionist if there is anything resembling justice in this world or the next. 
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on October 01, 2004 at 13:27:54 PT
Cruel and inhumane
She should retire...and lots of other people involved, too...or be fired. She's way lost touch with reality and justice.She should be charged with cruelty at the very least. If the young man had been a dog or a baby duck and not a "pothead", she would be.
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Comment #10 posted by b4daylight on October 01, 2004 at 12:22:19 PT
This is not only sad, but criminal. 
I find it amazing that the government will do more harm than the drugs, yet the public stands by and lets these criminal acts take place with no regard for human life. 
I am ashamed to be american
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Comment #9 posted by goneposthole on October 01, 2004 at 12:07:54 PT
you must trust the US gov
They would never lie to the citizens of this country about the proven benefits of an efficacious plant. Never. The US government always tells the truth.
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Comment #8 posted by The GCW on October 01, 2004 at 11:58:49 PT
As obserd as this is; it's just more of the same..
Way to go, Ohio The good news is that Democrats are registering in droves in the heartland, traditionally a Republican stronghold. In Ohio, new voter registrations by Democrats were up by 250 percent compared to the same period in 2000. Republican registration rates are showing only a 25-percent increase.Because Ohio is currently a swing state, high rates of participation by Democrats are being hailed as a possible portent of a Kerry victory. No Republican candidate has ever been elected without carrying the state.But thereís a catch.Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, has ordered county boards of elections to follow strictly all provisions of Ohioís election laws, including one that requires registration cards be printed on thick, 80-pound stock paper. This is expected to impact hundreds of newly registered voters, as many county offices donít have 80-pound paper in stock. Others arenít sure what they have."We donít have a micrometer at each desk to check the weight of the paper," Michael Vu, director of the Cuyahoga County Board, told the Dayton Daily News.In addition, hundreds of voters have registered using forms published by newspapers on traditional newsprint.The League of Women Voters of Ohio says theyíve never heard of a state blocking voter registration based on the weight of paper upon which people registered and is taking action, together with several votersí rights groups.Because most counties are buried under a backlog of registrations, they might not be able to notify voters before the registration deadline that they arenít actually registered because the form they filled out is made of the wrong kind of paperĖa technicality if ever there was one.Blackwell has also declined to inform the stateís parolees that they are eligible to vote, drawing heavy criticism from national voting-rights advocates, who say hundreds of parolees who are eligible to vote will likely miss out on the opportunity as a direct result.Itís pretty clear that Blackwell is doing all he legally can to suppress the Democratic vote in his state. One hopes voter outcry will eventually result in his being thrown out of office. While itís his duty to enforce the law, itís also his duty to be fair. His efforts are contrary to the spirit of democracy and raise troubling questions about the ability of the United States to hold fair and free elections.After the debacle in Florida that got George selected as our next president, some cynics suggested we call the United Nations in and ask them to monitor our next general election. As voter suppression seems to be gathering steam, what sounded like a joke suddenly isnít quite so funny.
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Comment #7 posted by Max Flowers on October 01, 2004 at 11:26:58 PT
No way
Wow I'm having a hard time even making sense of most of it... this story is amazingly sick. Mind-blowing.
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Comment #6 posted by The GCW on October 01, 2004 at 11:21:21 PT
Cannabis prohibitionists: worst of the worst.
They will even cage a man that is in such bad medical shape, just for using a plant. 
To be associated with the killers and the cagers is way low.You can't get much lower of an uncivlized person.Diaper scrap for a soul.Evil minds and souls. Gross suckers.
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Comment #5 posted by E_Johnson on October 01, 2004 at 09:51:15 PT
Let's commission an opera about this man
I am not kidding.I am an opera fan, I go three times every year.We need to get our stories into the arts. We have so many stories now. We're fighting a war, we have lots of stories.We have political organizations to spend money on lobbying and lawsuits but what about a foundation to give grants to struggling artists and writers who want to tell the story of the marijuana movement?Art is the language of the soul. We are talking at the public with our minds but we should speak in that other language too.Besides, art therapy is a good way to heal from reading this kind of news.
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Comment #4 posted by drfistusa on October 01, 2004 at 09:25:11 PT
murdered for medical necessity
Not even a ventilator was allowed, the penalty for this joint was death. What kind of lawyer did he have not to appeal!!!And how could a paralized man use a gun?? Or any control if it was in the car.
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Comment #3 posted by goneposthole on October 01, 2004 at 09:17:23 PT
deepest sympathies
A lot of good that will do. Can the judge spell 'lawsuit'?When I awakened this morning at 4:00 AM, I heard these words spoken from a woman on a radio program: "I'm hooked on Paxil and I can't get off of it."Those legal drugs sure are good for a person. I need another 20 emails per day soliciting the sale of them. 
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Comment #2 posted by Trichome on October 01, 2004 at 09:12:38 PT:
Johnathan Magbie R.I.P.
I am so sorry for your loss Mr.s Magbie!
Is the judge finally satisfied with his actions?
Amerecia needs an enormous change in its medical marijuana policy. Although it was not mentioned, I am sure the relfief Johnathan got from his marijuana was medical, whether D.C. officials acknowledge that is ubsurd. The Feds give 7 lbs to 7 patients each year. This act of continued distribution completely outweighs and contradicts any verbiage to the contrary regarding medical cannabis efficacy. 
End the Cannabis Holocaust!
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on October 01, 2004 at 08:38:10 PT
What kind of sadists do we have running our "justice" system? What kind of a man sends a f**cking quadrapeligic to jail??  This is NOT an isolated incident in the Unites States of America. Just a few years ago that poor woman in AZ was sentenced to 60 days.Even with this terrible tragedy, basically the killing of a cripple for marijuana possession, the mainstream media still won't acknowledge what happened with the headline. How about "Quadriplegic Man Dies When Jailed for Marijuana"? "Paralyzed Man Dies During Marijuana Jail Sentence"? This man was sentenced to a slow, painful death by an American judge, and the sentence was carried out by a bunch of prison guard thugs.This makes me so angry I can barely even type.Here's something else I wanted to post. Merck has taken Vioxx off the market after "tens of thousands" of people may have suffered permanent heart damage while on the drug. Merck did this themselves - the FDA was perfectly fine with this toxic drug.It's especially scary for me - I was on Vioxx for years for pain from chronic degenerative arthritis - using vaporized cannabis on a daily basis is the specific thing that enabled me to stop taking Vioxx in 2001. Now I will wonder forever if my heart was damaged by Vioxx, along with millions of other people around the world. Cannabis has been used since Biblical times and I know it's completely safe. It's hard to describe how re-assuring that is, other medical patients will understand what I'm talking about:Maker takes Vioxx off market
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