Expert: 'Unheard Of' For Someone To Be Forgotten In Cell

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

A man who has spent 40 years working with corrections agencies says he's heard of people who've been taken into custody and who've then been forgotten about overnight. But Thomas Beauclair of the National Corrections Institute says it's "pretty much unheard of" for someone to be trapped in a windowless holding cell for four days.

That's what happened to a San Diego college student who'd been swept up in a drug raid. He wasn't going to be charged, so federal agents told him to just hang tight in the holding cell while they finished the paperwork to release him.

They then forgot he was in the 5-by-10-foot windowless room. He could hear only the muffled sounds of voices and toilets flushing in the Drug Enforcement Administration facility.

On the third day, Daniel Chong says, he began to hallucinate. He urinated on a metal bench to be able to drink his urine. He says, "I pretty much lost my mind."

After four days, agents on a fluke opened the door and found him covered in his own feces. He says one agent asked, "Where'd you
come from?"

Chong spent five days in a hospital, being treated for dehydration, kidney failure and other problems.

His attorneys have filed a $20 million claim against the federal agency, saying his treatment amounts to torture. The figure represents the most that he would seek in a lawsuit.

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