EDITORIAL: Heed grand jury's report

The Dispatch Editorial Board
York County Prison in Springettsbury Township, Thursday, June 29, 2017.

Thumbs up to the York County grand jury that investigated the senseless death in 2018 of Everett Palmer while in custody at York County Prison.

Now, it's up to county officials to heed the grand jury's recommendations and ensure inmates receive the treatment and care they require. 

Palmer, 41, was arrested in Lancaster County because he had an outstanding warrant relating to a DUI in York County. The grand jury spelled out Palmer's final hours of freedom, including "bizarre" and "paranoid" behavior, and four separate run-ins with police officers in the hours before his arrest.

Palmer was high on methamphetamine, the report concluded, and acted erratically while in custody.

But even so, some guards at York County Prison exacerbated the situation. They taunted him and fed his delusions with condescending jabs, which state Corrections Secretary John Wetzel  specifically criticized.  

All told, the grand jury produced 24 recommendations for dealing with situations such as Palmer's. They include requiring the presence of staff trained in de-escalation prior to removing an inmate from his or her cell, and a substantial boost to attention paid to mental health and drug issues.

These are common sense safeguards, especially when a high rate of inmates struggle with mental health conditions and drug addictions. Frankly, they should have been in place prior.

If they had been, Palmer might still be alive today. 

Thumbs down to U.S. Rep. Scott Perry who again this week displayed his contempt for Pennsylvanians on the floor of the U.S. House.

During a debate over legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize, Perry, R-Carroll Township, opted to stride to the lectern and lob disdain at Pennsylvanians who just happen to be members of a union and residents of the state's largest city.

"If you live in Philadelphia, you just go back to the helpful union guy. The helpful union guys, the thugs, the presentment," Perry rambled Tuesday while attempting to pan the Democrat-backed bill, according to CSPAN.

Ah yes, the "thug" word, one so often reserved for Black people, who, just so happen to live in heavily brown cities, such as Philadelphia.

And Perry's willingness to throw rhetorical grenades, seasoned heavily with dog whistles, at Pennsylvanians is a feature of his recent tenure. 

Remember, Perry supported former President Donald Trump's months-long assault on November's election, and challenged the certification of Pennsylvania's electors based on so-called "concerns," which just so happened to focus on votes cast in Black and brown communities, especially Philadelphia. 

That scam resulted in an insurrection on Jan. 6, when Trump's supporters, whipped into a frenzy by Perry and his co-conspirators, stormed the U.S. Capitol.

It's a fact that, on Tuesday, Perry's Democratic opponents in the House chamber hadn't forgotten.

"The thugs? Are those the friends of the folks who attacked this Capitol? Is that who you're talking about? Those are thugs," Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., shot back after Perry finished his senseless attack. 

In this image from video, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., speaks as the House debates the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Pennsylvania, at the U.S. Capitol early Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (House Television via AP)