On a Thursday morming Adriana Torres-Flores, an undocumented Mexican woman in Arkansas, pleaded not guilty to charges of selling pirated CDs and DVDs. She was taken to a holding cell to await transportation to the Washington County Jail. The bailiff that was in charge of arranging her transportation, however, forgot she was there, and she was left in the holding cell without food, water, or access to a toilet for four days. The news of this negligence on the part of the bailiff is enough to shed light to the way that immigrant women and women of color are regarded in the legal system, but the cherry on top of this story comes with the slap on the wrist that the offending bailiff got for his actions: just a 30-day suspension:
I realize some people may have expected Hankins to be terminated. However, my philosophy is if an employee makes a mistake while trying their best to perform their duties, I will try to salvage them, [Washington County Sherriff Tim] Helder said in a statement.
A typo is a mistake; forgetting a woman in an empty 9’ by 10’ concrete cell for four days can have serious physical and mental health consequences, represents gross negligence and should not be taken lightly. Even if the bailiff genuinely did forget that Torres-Flores was in that cell, the Sherriff’s blasé dismissal of the episode as a simple mistake is not lost on those of us who are constantly hearing the stories of discrimination and human rights violations against immigrant women and women of color.
For more information on immigrant’s rights as women’s rights, see the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights Guiding Principles.
-Veronica Bayetti Flores