I agree. Otherwise decent people will stand by as a fellow human being is brutally beaten to death. But I happen to believe that those who swear an oath, choose to wear a uniform
, and choose to put their lives on the line have a higher responsibility. They do not have permission to stand by, or pick and choose their own rules and when to apply them. At the very least they have to quickly, deliberately and without hestitation, intervene when the real bad guy(s) turns out to be their partner(s). It is outrageous when a jail booking area filled with staff -- officers, police officer, nurse -- becomes a stage for torture, abuse and death as it did for Jesse. Something is inherently wrong in that environment, something that is probably not just explained by people being afraid or uncertain. When I watched the brutalization of Jesse Lee Williams on that jail house surveillance video I sensed an environment of sadism premised on an "us" vs. "them" mob mentality that probably existed long before Jesse was brought in there. Jesse's death was the straw that broke the camel's back. I sense, however, the camel's back was heavily loaded down before it finally broke.
The main sicko charged (and later convicted) in that heinous and absurd display of inhumane treatment argued his case in court describing how he feared for his own life and only did what he did because he had to.
How much is never picked up on surveillance cameras? How much goes unreported? If we only see the tip of the iceburg, then how deep does it truly lie?
I believe that working in corrections can put one in the precarious position of having to guard against one's own potential slippery slope toward power intoxication and potential abuse. The Stanford Prison experiment (are you familiar with this? conducted in 1971) had shown that normal college students placed in the role of jailers and prisoners could amazingly quickly descend, if unchecked, into a dangerous mindset of "us" vs "them."
Interestingly, Professor Zimbardo himself allowed the experiment to continue too long because he was sort of inside the experiment himself and had trouble recognizing the inherent abuse underlying the behavior of the guards. He, himself, simply by watching and recording the activities each day became desensitized to the behavior. "In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress."
It took an outsider to come in and witness what was going on to immediately realize, point out, and ultimately insist that the experiment stop without delay. Later, looking back, professor Zimbardo recognized his own blindness to the abuse as he was so closely involved in monitoring and recording the daily activities. The graduate student (I believe it was grad student) who happened to witness the humiliation, degradation and abuse one afternoon for the first time knew instinctively that it was wrong and it needed to stop. She was the sensitive, realistic, view from outside peering into an environment in which a single, uncontested view of the "bad guys" was permitted to seed, cultivate and ultimately reign.
Re: the nurse. I did not know she was badly bruised. She seemed to handle it very well, and very bravely. I can see how staff can get very angry at these guys -- they lash out abruptly and seemingly as if they have no understandable root cause. Because of that, it becomes easy to assume they are inherently evil/bad and that, therefore, must be the cause. From there it is easy to then slide into an "us" vs "them" mentality. I happen to believe most violent criminals are made not born. Some are born, but for the most part they are forged over their years.
Unfortunately, far too many of guys go into the correctional facilities as non-violent criminals only to emerge later as seriously violent ones. The environment is far from conducive to logical rehabilitation, it often serves only in the reverse.