akw “.,\\Stak GALLERY 600 Contemporary Paintings, Sculpture, Prints THE FINEST TRADITIONAL FRAMING Custom Plexiglass and Custom Welded Frames 600 West 28th at Nueces . . . phone 477-3229 Reeves County Blues Austin One of the worst places to find yourself if you have long hair or are hitching, or both, is Pecos. One of such description is apt to find himself in the Reeves County Jail for failing to meet the community’s grooming and transportation standards. During the past few months, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Texas Civil Liberties Union have received a flood of letters from Pecos inmates citing violations of their rights from mail tampering to poor sanitation and brutality. To begin with, it seems remarkably easy to be arrested in Pecos. Though we don’t know of anyone who has been arrested for spitting on the sidewalk, there are those who have been for walking on the wrong side of the street. This past winter two men, Steve Urquhart and Doug Checkmizof, who were hitching from Arizona to Texas, were arrested on remarkably flimsy charges. They spent two months in the Pecos jail. Urquhart and Checkmizof, both long hairs, had gotten a ride from El Paso to Pecos and were getting something to eat in the Ropers Cafe, a local restaurant. The manager saw two sheath knives that were strapped to their belts, and Urquhart says the manager called the police at that time. He told the Observer that one highway patrolman and one city policeman came into the cafe, sat down and watched them until Checkmizof rose to pay the bill. He said they were then grabbed, handcuffed, taken outside and held at gunpoint. Urquhart said they were not told they were being arrested, but when they arrived at the police station they were charged with carrying a prohibited weapon. He said their bonds were set at $5,000 each. Urquhart contends that they were not allowed to see a lawyer prior to their trial. The only counsel he says that he got occurred when they were brought before the judge. At that time a man with a western hat and cowboy boots walked up behind them and said something to the effect of “You’d better plead guilty, son.” Not knowing that it is legal to carry a weapon in Texas when traveling across several counties, Urquhart pleaded guilty. They were sentenced to 30 days, fined $100 and $44 in court expenses each. While they were behind bars Urquhart said the medical care they received was very poor. Checkmizof, an epileptic who also had a skin disease similar to skin cancer, was virtually neglected during a bad seizure, according to Urquhart. Urquhart presently has a case of serum hepatitis which he claims he caught in the Reeves County Jail. It would be possible for Urquhart and Checkmizof to bring suit against Reeves County for everything that happened from the time they were arrested until the time they were released. It is illegal to not be allowed to see legal counsel. It is illegal to be forced to serve time in jail solely because a party is unable to pay a fine. And there are certain standards of sanitation and safety set out by Texas law. In another case a prisoner named Johnny Quick experienced major difficulties sending and receiving mail. Since all outgoing mail from the Reeves County Jail is censored, a prisoner must leave his envelopes unsealed. If the censor discovers anything “improper” in the letter or a breach of form, the letter is tossed into the waste basket. So, if a prisoner wants half a chance to get a letter out of Pecos and to an attorney, he will have to smuggle it out by way of some visitor. The Texas Civil Liberties Union people report that they have gotten letters mailed from all over the country which were written in the Pecos jail. Incoming mail also has a hard time reaching the prisoners. Since some inmates have allegedly not been indicted, or even legally arrested, the Reeves County Jail will have no record of the prisoners’ confinement, and therefore any mail addressed to them will be stamped “Return to Sender.” Quick, one prisoner whose letters managed to reach an attorney, said that the possibilities for posting bond or getting any legal aid in Pecos are virtually zilch. Quick. tried to post bond himself, but the bond premium was not enough to merit it. All his requests to see a lawyer were denied, at which point he began trying to contact the ACLU in Washington. Since it is unlikely that letters from the ACLU will ever reach such a prisoner, he is virtually helpless and at the mercy of Pecos. All the longhairs who wind up in the Reeves County Jail either have their hair cut by another inmate or shaved by one of the deputies. It would be a good idea if young people with long hair who are planning a trip west to California or are coming back east would route themselves around Pecos. This can be done if one gets off Interstate 20 at Big Spring, taking 87 north to Lamesa, and then continues west from there, going through Hobbs and Carlsbad, New Mexico. Paul Stone Washington, D.C. Rosemarie King, wife of Observer contributing editor Larry L. King, died on June 8, of cancer, at the National Institute of Health in Washington. A native of the District of Columbia, Ms. King worked on Capitol Hill for some 15 years before retiring about six years ago. She was private secretary to Sen. Jacob Active in liberal causes, Rosemarie King marched on crutches in a demonstration for women’s liberation only a few months before her death. She was also active in the Civil Rights movement and in the cause of peace. The Kings were married in 1965, the second marriage for each. They met while both were working on Capitol Hill in the 1960 Kennedy campaign. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society. July 7, 1972 11
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