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Chicken Teriyaki AGAIN?? The Inhumanity....the Horror.....

'Jail Overcrowding' needs some clarification

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, May 22, 1996.

There is a great To-Do about jail overcrowding again, and the local newspapers are zealously covering the horror. Now, this is something I can discuss, because I was in jail for four months, from October 1994 to February of 1995, which is to say, during another election period. Oh, yes, don’t forget the election. The sheriff’s department has not.

It is helpful to be precise in our glossary of terms here. Some people say the jail is overcrowded, leaving the impression of the law being broken and prisoners forced into inhumane conditions. It is not like that. The jail may have been designed for a certain number of people, but I’m willing to bet its legal limit has not been approached. Each cell has room for two cots. Many are still single. I had a single cell in the General Population Module, the notorious G-Pop. Everyone on the second level does.

G-Pop was focused upon as overcrowded because two guys were about to get into a fight while the Daily Camera was there. Despite the fact that you cannot gather a mixed bag of races and loudmouths anywhere on the planet without there being a fight - sort of - the Daily Camera was blind to the main curiosity which they put on the front page of the Sunday edition. One of the combatants was only seventeen, which raised the question of what he was doing in the adult jail or the adult half-way house where I am and where he was for several months. If that is their idea of an 'incident,' they have tender sensibilities.

Of course, I was there when we were allowed outside recreation, which a recent foiled escape has quashed forever, one guesses. This could make it tough unless you schedule someone to watch the inmates in the yard. Of course, the communication tower looks down on the yard, and how someone could smuggle a rope made of sheets and pull himself over the wall without a prolonged period of obvious activity puzzles me, to say no more.

Before the 1994 elections, you may have noticed the numbers of transients went down because they were all in jail stealing food from the kitchen, where they were assigned to work with me. After the election, they seemed to be released. It was during this period that an officer I knew in real life solicited my vote to get an expanded jail. They allowed me to continue this radio show, perhaps in hope I would bemoan conditions. Who knows?

What I do know is that a ridiculously high percentage of people in jail are not there for violent or predatory crimes. I was one. Bear in mind that it may not be a good idea for an entity - the police or sheriff - to be both the recipient of budgetary largesse for a new crowded jail when they can increase or decrease the population by will and minor policy changes. Prisons and jails are conservative job programs and social engineering. They are a big business and police powers should not be in them. Turn the jail over to County Corrections, or another entity that cannot fill the jails before elections on behalf of gullible newspapers who cannot ask why seventeen year-olds are in adult jails.