COUNSELOR'S CORNER:

Now this is the story of an inmate with, how shall I say this, huevos. Scott Anthony Gomez Jr. is suing the Pueblo County Jail in Denver.

That in itself shouldn’t be a shock as inmates sometimes sue county jails because of the way they are treated, however this case has a different twist in that, Gomez’ lawsuit is based on the fact that he hurt himself while trying to escape. Gomez thinks that the county jail ought to pony up for his injuries as it made escaping too easy.

In January 2006 Gomez escaped for the first time through a ceiling tile to ventilation system, eventually reaching the roof. Gomez then used the old “bed sheets into a rope trick” and headed down the wall.

His freedom lasted all of two days and he was then caught and brought back to jail.

Not to be discouraged, Gomez tried again a short time later, again going through a ceiling tile and again trying to slide down the bed sheets he had thrown down the wall of the building. But this time Gomez fell on his way down.

The crux of this lawsuit is that the sheriff of this county made it too easy for him to escape.

Needless to say the sheriff, Kirk Taylor, has attempted to make his jail a more secure place since then.

He has taken care of the ceiling tile and other issues.

The story of Gomez is an interesting one.

He spent two years in state prison after being convicted of a weapons-related charge earlier this decade.

Shortly thereafter he violated his probation and was sent to the Pueblo County Jail.

He claims he attempted to escape because of the way he was treated in jail, with prison staff allegedly using mace on him, a tazer on him and beating him from time to time.

After his first escape, the one that lasted for two days, Gomez claims that he told prison officials that this jail was not a good place to house people because there were too many ways to escape.

Gomez then claims that the guards continued to mistreat him so he decided to try again.

He claims that the ease with which the ceiling tiles could be removed and prisoners could start their exit constituted negligence in that it was giving plaintiffs an open invitation to escape, according to his lawsuit.

Gomez is no longer serving his time at the Pueblo County Jail.

He was convicted of attempting to escape and is now at the Colorado State Penitentiary, a facility known for its tight security.

So it doesn’t look like Gomez will be escaping again, however, his lawsuit remains.

Taylor doesn’t think much of the lawsuit, saying “it doesn’t pass the straight face test . . . . he is the criminal here, not the sheriff. He is the one who committed the crime.”

It’s hard to argue with his reasoning, which brings us back to Gomez’ lawsuit in which he claims “defendants did next to nothing to insure [sic] that the jail was secure and the plaintiff could not escape.”

So if you see $100 bills sticking out of someone’s wallet, are you supposed to try to rob him?

Or if you happen to notice that your neighbors have just driven off and left their front door open, are you supposed to go in and help yourself to their valuables?

I would suggest that Gomez’ thinking is more than flawed, which may well have lead him to find himself spending time in prison in the first place.

Perhaps when Gomez is lawfully freed after serving his sentence he can go into business as a prison security consultant; in the meantime, he would be well advised to serve his sentence in peace.


 CHARLES J. UNGER is a criminal defense attorney in the Glendale law firm of Flanagan, Unger & Grover, and a therapist at the Foothill Centre for Personal and Family Growth. He may be reached at (818) 244-8694 or at www.charlieunger.com.

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