How Dare She Hate Jail?

Elena Pritchard’s Dec. 31 drawings and first-person account, “When a Cartoonist Landed in L.A. County Jail, She Drew What She Saw, Using Only a Golf Pencil,” split readers between those who were appalled that she did not address her culpability for landing in jail and those who loved her art and message.

Roncast writes, “I hope she goes far in life, but at no time did I read that she accepted responsibility for her actions. She never admits that it is her fault that she found herself in L.A. [County jails]. Instead she blames it on an ‘overworked public defender’ and even goes so far as to depict herself as an innocent baby in the drawings.”

Webec, however, responds that Pritchard’s own shortcomings are irrelevant, noting, “The reason for being put in there has nothing to do with how someone is treated in there. There are plenty of wardens that have fired COs for yelling or putting their hands on inmates. The inhuman[ity] of the jails that she described will not fly in some wardens’ prisons.”

Numerous people who have spent time in county jail weighed in, including Blazeaglory, who notes, “If jail was comfortable, you would want to go back. … So, it’s not the Hilton. … LOL.” The same reader says, “We need to change things by making the jails more accountable but at the same time, we need to be accountable for our own actions. … You put yourself in jail, not your public defender. … What is with this generation and shifting the blame?”

RiseAgainst argues that people don’t realize the level of brutality among county jailers, who generally deal with people awaiting trial or convicted of lesser crimes. “I saw the L.A. County sheriffs openly mock a mentally challenged man to his face,” RiseAgainst writes. “They called him ‘retard’ and ‘moron’ and shoved him around. I could tell that the man had no idea what was going on. They are horrible ‘people’ who have lost their humanity.” 

Justine34, a public defender, defended her profession: “You didn’t spend two months in jail because you had a public defender. You spent two months in jail for failing to follow court orders after I’m guessing given multiple times to comply. You, not the public defender, voluntarily decided to accept whatever offer you were given.

But many simply enjoyed the art and its message at face value. Writes Christine Caserta, “I’m sorry you had to go through that, but this is absolutely awesome. I love your work — are you making prints? Also, will you be making an appearance somewhere? I would love to shake your hand!”


In last week’s article “The Queen of Frocks,” we incorrectly said the firm’s annual revenue in 2012 was $100 million. That figure is instead for annual sales.

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