Firpo Files 9-27-2012
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What Has Dr. Murray Been Doing?

What a visit to his jail facility revealed

The Firpo Files

(September 27, 2012)

Yesterday I was given a specialized one-on-one behind-the-scenes tour of the facility where Dr. Conrad Murray is incarcerated, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD).

Though not meeting with him personally, I was on the same floor, just yards away. Curiously, exactly one year ago today, on September 27, 2011, the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's personal physician began.   

Thereafter, on November 7, 2011 (Day 24 of the trial), after about eight hours of deliberation, the jury found Murray guilty. And, finally, on November 29, 2011 (Day 25), Judge Michael E. Pastor sentenced Murray to the maximum four-year penalty, after which Murray was immediately handcuffed and taken off to jail. But which jail? and what has he been doing?

Facilities Background: Less than two weeks ago I was also treated to a personalized backstage tour of the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, the planet's largest jailhouse building.

(Unfortunately, the LASD has been accused of brutalizing inmates; consequently, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Department. Furthermore, a blue-ribbon panel is among several groups that have coalesced in closely scrutinizing the agency.)

Actually, L.A.'s "Twin Towers" are in reality one building structure as opposed to two separate buildings as were New York's much larger and far more striking Twin Towers.  

The Towers comprise part of the detention complex that includes the Men's Central Jail (MCJ). "Housing about 5,000 inmates from all around Los Angeles County," says the Department's official Web site, "MCJ is the largest jail [apparently population-wise] in the world."

The Towers are ultra-modern (with glass modules where inmates can easily be viewed by guards), while MCJ is more traditional with its small cells, cold hard steel bars, and clanging electronic gates you see so often on TV. Murray is in Men's Central Jail instead of the Twin Towers, though he's not literally "behind bars," per se. (I explain below.)

But how close are the main downtown locations that were connected with Michael's death and Murray's trial and sentencing? To give proximity and perspective, (1) the criminal court building where Conrad was tried, (2) the County Coroner's office that contained Michael's corpse, and (3) the current jail cell where Conrad is incarcerated, are all well within a five-minute drive of each other; all nestled together in downtown L.A.

Various Groups: The Twin Towers and MCJ both have a general population of inmates; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Disturbingly, the composition of the entire jail population was by far African American and Hispanic. If there were any White faces, they were lost in a sea of color.  

Both facilities also house child molesters. In the Towers, these convicted pedophiles have their own colored jumpsuit, but are housed in a separate module, never coming into contact with other prisoners.

In MCJ, with its 5,000 inmates guarded by 100 deputies, pedophiles have separate quarters, but have the same color jumpsuit as general population inmates so as to camouflage them since they occasionally meet. Pedophiles have a colored wristband which identifies them to deputies.

Though segregated in their own module, confidential Informants ("snitches") dwell on the same floor with the general population and gays in the Towers.

There is a fairly robust though segregated gay population in MCJ that enjoys extra perks--including zumba classes and free condoms (78% are HIV-positive)--courtesy of the city of West Hollywood's strong gay and lesbian lobby.

Female inmates actually have their own floor in the Towers, whereas there aren't any at all in MCJ. Both facilities have a medical clinic, but the Towers have full medical facilities complete with urgent care and a psych ward that meets different inmate patient needs. And then there's the K10 inmate.

Conrad's Routine: Loosely defined, K10s are high profile inmates, of which Conrad Murray is one of 150 located on the first floor. Each has his own cell.  His routine? At 6:30 a.m., shower and breakfast; 11:00 a.m., lunch; 4:30 p.m., dinner. Free time fills in the spaces in between.

There's one large flat-screen TV for every three K10 cells. Once a week, in scheduled intervals, all inmates are eventually permitted outside on the roof ("roof time") for exercise.

However, Murray and other K10s are isolated in tall one-man cages on the roof in which they exercise. All inmates can purchase items, including snacks, from a local convenience store.

There you have it, a quick view through a small window into the world of Conrad Murray. More later?