But a law is one thing. Putting teenagers in holding cells while they are so intoxicated that they are unable to walk is playing with their lives. And they played with the life of 16 year old Cindy Gilbert Sohappy. She came to the Chemawa Indian School in Salem Oregon to get an education – not to be placed in a holding cell to die.
Whenever laws are made to make something interesting teenagers will investigate with a curiosity as cats and some will go too far as Miss Sohappy unfortunately did. She needed medical attention because such a young body has not decades of experience with alcohol. She didn’t get it. Instead the employees treated her as a hardened alcoholic and this decision killed her.
Fortunately they no longer use the holding cells but if the death of this woman should have any lasting impact they should start treating teenagers who consume too much alcohol as patients, not criminals.
Miss Sohappy never got to live an adult life. May she find peace where she is now.
- Testimony of Corinna Sohappy before the United States Senate Finance Committee September 21, 2004
- INDIAN TRIBAL DETENTION FACILITIES (HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS UNITED STATES SENATE ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS SECOND SESSION ON OVERSIGHT HEARING ON ISSUES AND PROBLEMS RELATED TO THE CONDITIONS IN INDIAN TRIBAL DETENTION FACILITIES)