Not in America
The uniformed man pulled her out of the car’s back seat where she had been laying, passed out, face pressed into the vinyl. She stumbled to stand. She looked around but didn’t recognize the area. She was in a strange country and just coming down from an extended four-day high.
The man asked her for her ID. She had trouble understanding at first, then realized what he asked and fumbled in her purse.
The heroin her boyfriend/handler had given her… was it the night before? She wasn’t sure… was wearing off and she ached for more. All her thoughts were on her next fix. She had become addicted to Oxy in college at eighteen, when a doc overprescribed the highly addictive narcotic for a minor lacrosse injury.
The man handcuffed her, and she found herself seated in the back of a grimy vehicle. Her stomach turned. Then, she was pulled into a room where questions flew at her but failed to land. She could only focus on the pain of not having a fix.
They took her clothes. They took her phone. They took her purse. They took everything…except her dignity. Her addiction had taken that years before. They put her in a small cell. Black mold hovered in the ceiling shadows and reached its tendrils toward the floor, where sewage seeped up from the floor drains. Feces dried to flakes on the metal toilet seat. She vomited.
She lay down on the metal-framed bed and fell into a fitful sleep, yearning for a fix.
The minutes turned into hours. Withdrawal racked her body and brain. No help came. She cried. She screamed in pain. She vomited more. No help came. She lay in her own puke, sweat, and clamminess, calling for comfort. None came.
The hours turned into days. Still, no help came.
Days blurred together and turned into months.
Months turned into years. Four Thanksgivings passed by without family. Four Christmases without cheer. Her newborn child was stolen from his family and given to a stranger. Her grandmother was diagnosed with 4th stage cancer and died six weeks after. Her sister met and married a man.
Still no hope came.
She spent her thirty-fifth birthday in the mold-ridden room, her fourth since she was taken. No help came.
Her family had been notified she would be released for a cash payment of $75,000.00. Her family didn’t have that kind of money.
Her mother searched for help, for someone to hear, for someone to listen… but no hope came.
She sat in her cell, wondering when she’d be tried for whatever indiscretion the local authorities decided to pin on her.
She no longer needed a fix. Four years in that third-world hell hole, fighting for her life and her sanity, sobered her up like no rehab before ever could.
After nearly four years, her captors lowered their demands to $40,000 cash for her release, but they refused to try her for her crimes. So still she sat. In mold. In shit. In pure disgust.
Her mother wrote for help to anyone who would listen. But no one would. No help came. No hope came.
Her mother contacted the ACLU. The person on the end of the line asked for her daughter’s name. They asked for her age. Then, they asked her daughter’s race. After a pause, the person from the ACLU said they couldn’t be of help.
Her mother talked to the authorities. All of them. They showed no compassion.
People shook their heads. Said it was an awful thing. “That couldn’t/wouldn’t happen in America. There are laws and civil liberties in place to keep someone from being held captive without a trial for four years.” …and walked away.
She had no health care. The “nurse” repeatedly told her to pray if she were sick. Pray about the staph infection which cloaked her buttocks and upper back legs for over six months. Pray for the yeast infection the nurse said she had gotten because she was “a dirty girl who did dirty things in alleys with dirty boys,” so she deserved the pain and suffering. The “nurse” who apparently gave her only twelve pads a month for her menses and dirty, stained underwear.
She was an addict. Her actions put her there. Did she deserve anything better?
Besides, that couldn’t/wouldn’t happen in America.
Instead of drugs, she craved the taste of fruit, which she was never given. She longed for the taste of real homecooked-type food, which there never was. She longed for sunshine on her skin, which she rarely got.
Not in America. This could not, would not happen in American. Not in 2022.
But it is. It’s happening in America. It’s happening right now.
Her name is Paige Desmond. She is thirty-five years old. She’s an Army brat, the youngest daughter of a US Army vet. She’s a non-violent, recovering addict. I am her mother.
On 7 November 2018 – two years before Covid was even a thing – Paige was arrested in Dooly County, Georgia and taken to the Dooly County IN-justice Center where she has since been detained without trial, without effective counsel, without health care, without adequate food, in a pigsty of an establishment…where apparently everyone associated with crime on both sides of the bars is somehow related, and there are no rules. No oversight. No compassion.
Four Years. With no end in sight.
Don’t turn away. Don’t shake your head. Please help. Please help me bring my daughter home. I'm losing hope and can no longer do this alone.
Please. Share this story everywhere. Shine some bright light on these people.
Shine the light on Chief Magistrates, William A. Willis (who retired 1 Jan 2021) and Rooney Bowen (who replaced him), who apparently have allowed the DA to indefinitely continue the case and apparently refuses to lower her bond but the one time on 28 July 2022. The prosecuting DA, Brad Rigby, whose office apparently can’t find that ONE witness for trial… in four years. On Paige’s court-appointed attorney, Andrew Dove, who hasn’t returned my phone calls, apparently bends to the DA’s wishes, apparently ignored Paige’s request for a speedy trial, has apparently only conferenced with Paige maybe twice in four years, and apparently refuses to separate Paige’s trial per Paige’s request. On the “nurse” at the detention center, “Nurse” White, who apparently replaces true help/healthcare with condescension, lies, rudeness and the frailty of her false religion. On the bondsman, L&W Bonding Co., who apparently refuses to bond Paige out at the legally mandated rate of 10-13%, instead doubling that amount and asking for a GA property deed as well (he’s a retired GA Patrol officer with nice and pretty ties to the county law money-making machine… apparently). To the Sheriff, Craig Peavy who apparently took over the job from his dad, Van Peavy, and in turn will apparently pass the legacy over to his son, Deputy Scott Craig Peavy, Jr… to apparently continue to seize property and money (asset forfeiture) before trial and has apparently done nothing for his detainees, their needs, or their living conditions, regardless that in America we are allegedly innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Shine the lights on the disgusting pods, the sewage, the lack of competent healthcare… but mostly shine the line on the injustice of holding a human soul without trial for four years and no end in sight---unconstitutionally, unconscionably, deplorably, uncompassionately, and inhumanely.
Be our hope. Be our help. Please don’t wait until she becomes a 'cause' because she’s dead.
These are our children, our brothers, our sisters, our grandchildren…they need our love and compassion.
We won’t stand for it.
Not in America.
Thank you for listening.