MCSO: Baby Gabriel Mom Assaulted Inmates

Date: 2010-04-16

Elizabeth Johnson Sent To Psychiatric Unit

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Elizabeth Johnson, the mother of still-missing Baby Gabriel, has become a management problem and was relocated to the psychiatric unit facility after assaulting two inmates.

“She took some cleaning material -- spray -- and sprayed two fellow inmates, female of course, in their eyes," said Arpaio.

Arpaio recently had said during media interviews that Johnson was a model inmate who had not created any problems.

Within the last week, however, Johnson was placed on Arpaio's controversial nutra-loaf program -- commonly referred to bread and water.

The loaves consist of nonfat dry milk powder, an assortment of fruits and vegetables, chili powder, and bread dough compacted into a brick-like loaf. The program gives inmates two loaves a day in isolation, rather than providing two regular meals consisting of a sack lunch in the morning and a hot meal in the evening.

Johnson submitted a document titled "My Advanced Directive's Will" to jail staff after several days on the loaf program and claimed she was starving because she refuses to eat the loaf, which she said was full of rotten vegetables and worms.

Arpaio admitted the loaves were not very appealing, but insisted they were edible and provided nutritional value.

"I don't see any worms in there but it's hard to tell, you know. Quite frankly, I don't know that I'd eat this,” said Arpaio.

Jail officials said the letter prompted her transfer to the jail's psychiatric unit facility for evaluation.

The loaf program faced legal challenge in the case Bugoni vs. Coffman, which claimed it was unconstitutional punishment; however, when the federal judge granted summary judgment in favor of the Sheriff's Office on Friday, the case was dismissed.

Arpaio said he started the loaf program 10 years ago as a means to prevent inmates from assaulting detention officers and other inmates.

"I will not tolerate prisoners abusing my officers and other inmates by throwing urine, feces or assaulting them," Arpaio said. "For that type of behavior, they will go on bread and water."


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