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Sheriff's Department says Edin Enamorado was in "disciplinary housing," not the "hole"

Nicholas Rosenberg

One of seven street vendor activists facing felony charges says he was placed in solitary confinement for allegedly breaking San Bernardino County’s jail rules. The Sheriff’s department calls it “disciplinary housing.”

Edin Enamorado and the six others have been held without bail since December 14.

They’re charged with conspiracy, assault, false imprisonment and kidnapping tied to their advocacy for street vendors.

Enamorado says he was recently held in disciplinary housing inside a San Bernardino County Jail.

"I just got out of the hole right now…so. I was there for like 10, 11 days…well, technically it was 12 because they took me Sunday night."

That’s a recording of Enamorado on February 1 by a police-watchdog activist Sennett Devermont — known on Youtube as Mr. Checkpoint.

Enamorado said that he was released from “the hole” about an hour before that February first call.

According to a San Bernardino County Sheriff discipline report provided to KVCR by Enamorado’s attorney, he spent time in disciplinary housing for violating jail rules. Officials say Enamorado repeatedly orchestrated three way phone calls so he could speak with his girlfriend, Wendy Lujan, who is a co-defendant. Lujan is jailed in another facility.

Attorney Nicholas Rosenberg represents Enamorado. He told KVCR News on Tuesday that his client was placed in a 4 x 8 foot cell equipped with only a toilet and bed for up to 36 hours at a time.

"So basically he doesn't have that much room, when he's in, and that is solitary confinement," said Rosenberg. 

Lujan’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

Solitary confinement is supposed to be used sparingly in San Bernardino County jails.

Don Specter with the Berkeley-based Prison Law Office helped file a class-action lawsuit against San Bernardino County in 2016, alleging it violated people’s constitutional rights in the jail. As a result, the county agreed to change its policy on the use of solitary confinement.

"Basically they'll only put people in solitary confinement for serious violence or serious and significant threats of violence," he said.

Specter said putting inmates in solitary confinement for non-violent misbehavior would be inconsistent with department policy, but there’s no system in place to stop them from doing it.

The Sheriff’s department says that Enamorado and Lujan were both provided due process and that its disciplinary housing meets the minimum standards set by the state. But they objected to the use of the terms “solitary confinement” and “the hole.”

Specter didn’t speak specifically about Enamorado’s case, but he says the Sheriff’s department’s use of terms other than solitary confinement is just semantics.

"We call it solitary confinement and they call it restrictive housing and we're both talking about the same thing."

A judge is expected to rule on bail for the seven defendants by tomorrow.

Anthony Victoria is a UC Berkeley Local News Fellow reporting for KVCR News.