Christopher Monfort, the alleged cop-killer, finally got his TV set to wile away his mind-numbing days that have stretched to three years in solitary confinement at King County Jail.
There's nothing fancy about It. It's just a cheap, run-of-the-mill 17-inch flat screen, the same wall-mounted basic-cable boob tube all inmates have access to, whether they're in the general population or spending nearly every tick of the interminable day behind bars, as is the 43-year Monfort. And like the other TV sets, notes jail spokesman William Hayes, it's encased in steel so it can't be destroyed by a prisoner throwing a nut-out.
"Yeah, that happens. I don't how often, but it happens," said Hayes.
Morton, the first ultra-security inmate at the jail with his own TV, is charged with the aggravated murder of Officer Timothy Brenton and attempted first-degree murder in the wounding of Britt Sweeney on Halloween night 2009.
Brenton, 39, and officer trainee Sweeney, the Seattle Times reported, were in their parked patrol car in the Leschi neighborhood when, police say, Monfort pulled up alongside and opened fire. Authorities say Monfort had intentionally targeted officers to assassinate.
According to prosecutors, the shooting came nine days after Monfort allegedly firebombed four police vehicles at a city maintenance yard.
Monfort, who faces the death penalty, was partially paralyzed after been shot twice by detectives and spends his days in a wheelchair.
News that Monfort was getting a TV didn't sit well with a lot of furious jail workers and Seattle police who can't believe a suspected cop-killer is getting special treatment.
"I know people are feeling emotional about it, for this was a horrible crime," jail director Claudia Balducci told the Daily Weekly. "But as jailers, we can not let our emotions stop us from doing our job."
Balducci stressed that Monfort -- whose trial is still nearly a year away -- did not get the TV because he was lonely, as it has been widely reported. "That's wrong," she said. "What we are trying to do is give him some kind of stimulation to address the effects of mental isolation. It's been three years that he's been in isolation."
More than 80,000 people in the U.S. were in solitary confinement in 2005, the last time the federal government released such record,s and there's little doubt that solitary can break a human being.
Shane Bauer, a political prisoner who was held for 26 months in solitary in an Iranian prison, writes in Mother Jones of his experience: "Solitary confinement is a living death. Death because it is the removal of everything that characterizes humanness, living because because within it you are still you. The light's don't turn out as in real death. Time isn't erased as in sleep..."
Of course, Bauer had no television to make the minutes pass. Monfort now does -- at least from 7:30 a.m., following breakfast, until 10 p.m., when all TV sets are turned off throughout King County Jail.
"No, there's no late-night movies here," said spokesman Hayes.