An illegal fighting circuit in a dangerous prison is a plot many moviemakers overused in their bad mixed martial arts movies in the late '80s and early '90s.
Corrupt prison guards making inmates fight each other for entertainment or money sounds like a bit of a stretch in real life. Well, this is no crappy movie: It happened in a San Francisco prison.
Inmates in San Francisco's Hall of Justice were allegedly pitted against others twice their size in what San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi has dubbed "gladiator-style" fights. Adachi learned of the accusations when the father of inmate Ricardo Palikiko Garcia contacted him.
The inmate then confirmed that he has twice been forced by the prison officials to fight a man twice his size and another bout is also being set up. For the record, Garcia is 5'9 and weighs 150 pounds. Meanwhile, his African-American opponent Stanly Harris is 6'0 and weighs over 300 pounds. He too has confirmed Garcia's allegations and also revealed that in both the fights his opponent suffered injuries.
Jail inmate tells public defender that Sheriffs deputies were training inmates to fight. Deputies placing bets pic.twitter.com/xGU9efwnbD— Mark Matthews (@MarkMatthewsNBC) March 26, 2015
Garcia says any inmate who refused these gladiator fights was threatened with handcuffs and beatings. And those who agreed to fight and then lost had their food taken away from them.
Inmate says he was threatened by deputies to fight other inmates or face beating by SF deputies pic.twitter.com/YAxIoCDvyk— Mark Matthews (@MarkMatthewsNBC) March 26, 2015
The San Francisco District Attorney's Office has taken notice of the accusations leveled against the San Francisco sheriff's deputies.
In a statement, it said: "The conduct alleged against these Sheriff’s Department deputies is deplorable. Common sense indicates that such conduct does not occur without the knowledge of numerous people. These allegations require an independent and thorough investigation into the practices and supervision at the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department."
San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said he is unaware of any such activities, but has promised to get to the bottom of the story.
If it turns out to be true, it will only strengthen the belief that the prevalent incarceration system is futile and turns a convict into a hardened criminal. Just today, President Barack Obama touched on this subject in an interview with The Wire creator David Simon.