By Christopher D. Balch
By some estimates, as much as ten percent of the United States population is incarcerated. The cause of this mass imprisonment may be subject to debate (a debate well beyond the scope of this article); but the fact remains that as our citizenry ages, as its demograph- ics change, and as the ability of our citi- zens to express who they are and how they wish to be perceived changes, those same challenges face our sheriffs and their dep- uties, our municipal police forces, and our elected leaders at all stages and phases of government…
…It is important, and indeed crucial, to remember that incarcerated persons are indeed people. If one spends enough time around jails or prisons and guards and correctional officers, one becomes inured to the “inmate” who is a soulless, manipula- tive, and untrustworthy sort, generally un- fit to be let loose among law abiding folks, and who may only be marginally human. If the person is further marginalized, even within the jail or prison environment be- cause of their ethnicity, country of origin, or their sexual orientation or expression, then the consideration of their worth as a human can often be further discounted.
The cases often have horrific allegations (and often facts) that span years of assault and abuse at hands of guards, jailers, and other incarcerees. Even a cursory read of the caselaw or literature concerning transgender inmates recounts tales of horror that are dif- ficult to believe, much less understand. De- fense counsel must be prepared to address these tales and articulate cogent reasons for why the choices made by the jail or prison are appropriate, reasoned, and lawful.Excerpt from Chris Balch’s feature article in For the Defense magazine, Defense Research Institute’s flagship publication. Each issue contains in-depth, full-length, feature articles addressing crucial developments in the law and litigation practice. Articles are penned by top defense practitioners and experts from across the country on a variety of topics of interest to defense lawyers and others concerned with the defense of civil actions.