The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Sanity at work

Posted by Bill Nance on August 21, 2008

In Lake County Illinois, the Sheriff is trying to find out what’s going on in his jail in a unique way; he’s incarcerating himself.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

“As he walked into his own jail to spend a week behind bars, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said he’s confident his self-imposed sentence will be worthwhile.

‘It’s a decision that in my gut I knew was the right decision to do,” Curran said Wednesday after switching from a gray business suit into blue jail fatigues. “The reasons are very personal to me and I believe in them. There’s no looking back.’

Curran plans to live in a cell, eat jail food, mingle and talk with other inmates in common areas, even do kitchen duty and join a jail work crew. He’ll also attend numerous programs offered in the facility.

That immersion, he said, should give him more insight into everything from safety issues to what programs may be needed to help inmates straighten out their lives.”

Are thinking Brubaker too?

I have been a volunteer at various times in county jails and state prisons in two different states, including maximum security institutions. I can tell you form personal knowledge that the conditions in these places are often deplorable, and, more to the point, produce worse problems than the ones they try to solve.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no bleeding heart. I’ve met plenty of inmates who were down-right scary; people I pray never EVER get out. And in philosophical terms, I’ve no objection to capital punishment for the worst offenders.

But our prison and justice system is deeply flawed, often corrupt, and frankly is a security risk to all of us, because it routinely turns out people who are are more likely to commit crimes than they were upon incarceration.

It’s gratifying to see someone in charge taking an interest in actually addressing problems instead of trying to look like a tough-guy and get re-elected.

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