I looked and looked this week for memories in the ether from Jerry Kulp's short life. All I could find were his court and ADC papers. Jerry was a 17-year old prisoner on the Minors Unit at ASPC-Tucson last May when he committed suicide.
Jerry hadn't even been in prison a week; he must have just been terrified. How could anyone on the Minors Unit miss all the signs he must have been broadcasting that he wasn't going to last long inside?
Jerry wasn't a gang member, from what I can tell. He was a seriously mentally ill child. He was given ten years upon pleading guilty to sexual assault, a crime I can't find the details of now. He was up on a number of other charges - armed robbery, kidnapping, etc. He committed them all on one occasion when he was 15.
At the time he was initially charged as an adult, Jerry was so mentally impaired that he required a guardian to make his legal decisions for him, and had to undergo several rounds of competency exams and "restoration treatment" in Joe's Jail over the course of 6-9 months to be fit for trial.
Does anyone else out there find that troubling? There seems to be a pattern here with mentally ill people being inappropriately prosecuted - kept in jail the whole time their trials are being postponed - (as if they already know that they're guilty and doing the time anyway) - while they medicate them into health. Once so restored, they promptly plead guilty and get sent to prison where they end up neglected or assaulted and killed.
I can't believe we prosecuted a mentally incompetent child as an adult, and then threw him into prison, but I guess we do that all the time. That can't possibly be legal. Why was this kid sent to prison instead of to a hospital, anyway? To teach him some kind of lesson? He seems to have suffered plenty enough. To scare the rest of us at his expense? No wonder we're so soul sick.
I'd like to speak to Jerry's friends and family, if you're out there. Some of us are organizing to make sure this doesn't keep happening to people like Jerry and me in Arizona's state prisons. My phone number is 480-580-6807. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Peggy Plews.