Jail / by kevin murray

Just the thought of jail brings immediate depressive feelings to most people.  Being incarcerated in jail, is that depression come to life in which your freedoms of movement, of thought, of time, of control of your physical body, are now severely restricted, and consequently these freedoms have been ceded from your control, and replaced by the State's control.   Given these rather dire circumstances, most people in jail are eager to be in contact with loved ones and welcome their visits and correspondence.


In my community, a new jail recently opened in 2012, and you would think that this modern jail would encompass security, justice, and compassion with state-of-the-art equipment, but it really doesn't and this jail has significant and fundamental flaws. 


The biggest flaw and mistake by far that this particular jail makes is that you, an upstanding citizen of the United States, are not allowed to physically visit with an inmate within the facility.  Yes, you are allowed to talk to the inmate via telephone, per prescribed rules, and you are also allowed to video-call the inmate per prescribed rules but physical contact is forbidden and even a face-to-face meeting in which Plexiglas or similar separates you from the inmate are also forbidden. 


This deliberate policy of non face-to-face visitations and non physical contact is both a cruel and unnecessary punishment.  It does a deep disservice to something that is both very human and also very necessary for no good purpose.  While the inmates in jail are there for various reasons, some of them are there for simply being not able to post bail for the particular offense that they are accused of.  Matthew 25:39 exhorts us to: "… when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee."   This jail doesn't allow true personal visitations as if the jailors there believe that they are above moral law, that they are allowed and permitted to be our judges.


While no doubt, those that run this particular jail, can come up with all sorts of reasons and excuses as to why they don't allow physical visitations, unless it is Counsel for the inmate, none holds water to the truth, which is that these visits are disallowed primarily out of spite and out of a misplaced belief that inmates don't deserve courtesy and respect, but are now mere property of the State. 


There are other things within this jail program which cost innocent family members both time and money, while allowing middlemen to get rich from these actions.  For instance, don't think twice about bringing in some of your mother's home cooking, inmates can't accept food from family members or outsiders, but they will accept commissary food items from mycarepark.com, as long as you have the money to pay for this service.  If you want to hand some money over to your loved one in jail, you aren't permitted to pass money onto them directly, you must instead use the smart deposit kiosk located at the jail for a fee and a minimum amount.  Inmates aren't permitted to accept letters, only postcards, but it's also against the jail's policy to accept a postcard with a stamp.  Also, forget about bringing in a Bible or other books to an inmate, they must instead be soft-cover and be mailed directly by the publisher or bookstore, and the amount of books cannot exceed three within any 30-day period.


Does punishment reduce crime?  The United States has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world, but it's hardly crime free.  Bad laws, bad jails, and bad justice breed only contempt for the law.