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Probe: Feb. 19, 2002

February 19, 2002

QUESTION: I am writing on behalf of 30 to 60 women held at any given time in Imperial County jail. It was my impression that while we are in the county's custody it is the county's responsibility to house, clothe, feed us and meet our basic needs.

There must be a shortage of supplies because we can't get a basic product — sanitary napkins. As women we have no control over our monthly cycle. Getting this basic sanitary need met is one of the most difficult hardships we must endure while in custody.

The correctional officers tell us to use toilet paper because there are no pads available. However, they give us only one roll of paper per inmate per week.

How can it be that an institution like the Imperial County jail is so poor it can't afford sanitary napkins and toilet paper for its inmates? If you could look into this matter and shed some light on the subject, we would be grateful. — Locked Up, rural El Centro

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Sheriff's Office Lt. Bill Willard said, "They should have sanitary napkins. I will take care of it."

See how easy it is to solve a problem if you talk to the right person?

But let this be a lesson to you. When you get out of jail, don't go back. It is not a nice place.

QUESTION: Last October we won a mountain bike in a contest at Blockbuster Video. So far we haven't seen a bike. When we called the manager, she told us we didn't do our paperwork right so we're not getting a bike.

When we called again, she wouldn't talk to us but she gave us the number of her district manager. I have called him at least 15 times over a four-month period but he doesn't return our calls. — Disappointed Winner, El Centro

We know what you mean. The El Centro manager wouldn't talk to us, either. Instead she gave us a phone number to call.

We called and the voice mail reported it was full and advised us to call another machine. The second machine gave us no opportunity to leave a message. We thought we had missed something so we called the number again with the same results. We didn't want to wait four months so we called the El Centro store again.

We explained this to Manager Troylena Roe. She said she couldn't talk to us. She called back a few minutes later.

"We want to give the bike away," she said. "Our company gave 150 bikes away. We had three winners in this store."

To get the bike, you must sign a waiver, relieving the company of any liability if you get hurt on the bike, she said.

You didn't get the bike in October because you came in after the deadline for filling out the paperwork, Roe said. But the deadline will be waived if you come in now and sign the waiver, she said.

A TOBACCO CHECK — The PROBE reader who complained because police arrived too late to catch smokers puffing away will be glad to know that her complaint reached sympathetic ears at the El Centro cop shop.

That subject came up at a station meeting this week. Officers will be dropping by unannounced at local watering holes. Smokers puffing away will be cited on the spot.

Owners will be receive their citations in the mail. Fines up to $500 can be levied against owners for a third offense. Owners may be held responsible for both their actions and the actions of employees, said El Centro police Sgt. Mike Crankshaw.

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