Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Missoula jail: Jewish inmate beaten by white supremacists,
The lawyer for an inmate at the Missoula County Detention Facility fought unsuccessfully Tuesday for his client's release, saying the man, who is Jewish, had been beaten up by white supremacists at the jail.
The only way to protect Matthew Mays, said public defender Chris Daly, would be to put him in solitary confinement. And that's not fair, he said.
"Obviously, the jail has failed to keep Mr. Mays safe from these people before," he said.
Mays, 21, is being held on $50,000 bail on a probation violation and was in Missoula County District Court on Tuesday on a hearing in that case.
Daly submitted a letter from Mays' mother alleging white supremacists attacked her son on Sept. 6, leaving him "badly beaten up." Mays has a Star of David tattoo on one side of his chest, he said. The issue was raised during the Jewish High Holy Days, the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which this year begins Friday evening.
Daly sought Mays' release while his case is pending, saying his client was willing to wear a SCRAM tracking bracelet and have an interlock device on his car that would prevent him from driving if he'd been drinking.
But Deputy County Attorney Shawn Thomas protested that "concerns regarding the jail are overstated."
A jail employee in the courtroom said that Mays has been in the general jail population since the alleged incident. "If this happened in early September, it looks like he has been kept safe (since)," Thomas said.
Mays was convicted of a 2007 robbery in which he stole a bottle of Tussin DM from Kmart and then got into a fistfight with a security guard who pursued him. He was sentenced to 10 years under Department of Corrections supervision with eight years suspended. But his probation officer reported he's had problems with drinking.
District Judge Dusty Deschamps declined to release Mays, saying that "I do believe Mr. Mays is a risk to the community."
He noted that there may be another side to the story about the beating.
"Mr. Mays may want to consider keeping a low profile to avoid attracting attention to himself," he said.