Sheriff Sentences Self to Jail to Find Out How It Feels Like

What does it feel like to be in jail? Sheriff Mark Curran wanted to find out, so he sentenced himself to a week in lock-up!

"People who have never been in jail," he says wryly, "don't know what it's like to sit on the toilet in full view of everyone."

Lake County, the stretch of area north of Chicago to the Wisconsin border, is a land of extremes-- from the mansions of Lake Forest to the mean streets of Waukegan. The wealthy tend to be white, and the poor are usually African American or Latino. Inside the jail, the other inmates know who Curran is. Some act friendly when he says hello. Others turn away, or greet him with glares.

The sheriff says he understands the reaction, "I'm just another white guy—like the prosecutor, probably; like the person who sold him down the river; like the judge."

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One Sheriff I'd like to see try this is Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. His program of housing prisoners in military style tents, feeding them the cheapest food possible, and dressing them in stripes and pink underwear are very popular with his non-convicted constituents and apparently have not been ruled constitutional.
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I help out in the Chaplain's office of a correctional facility with Scripture and discharge planning. After release, arranging for employment, decent housing, AA/NA counseling, and fellowship meetings attended by mentors and mentees together to resolve problems and pray. Mostly Christian but faith based. The most rewarding aspect is when these men decide to give back and mentor to those leaving prison in fear as they were--addressing the mind, body, and Spirit.
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I gotta say, spending the night in the pokey isn't fun, and I hope to not do it again any time soon. Most people feel that you deserve whatever you get in jail, and don't realize that it becomes a dehumanizing experience, not a corrective one.
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Would you rather have a sheriff who doesn't have any idea what your situation is like... or one who might have a bit of an idea because he's put himself in his prisoners' shoes?

Now if we could just get politicians to temporarily live on the salaries of their constituents and doctors to spend time in their own hospitals, we'd be well on the way to creating more empathy in society.
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This guy sounds like he's on the road to true empathy with the inmates, which is always in short supply in our correctional system.

With that said, while he's receiving a government paycheck, it's pretty unconstitutional for him personally to bring religion into his workplace. (I know there are a lot of religious outreach programs in our prisons, and as long as access is fair and equal for all, that can be a good opportunity for the inmates. But when tax dollars pay the salaries of the people running them, that's totally different.)

Look at it this way -- if his Malachi program were about readings from The Qur'an, rather than The Bible, he'd likely be booted out of office pretty quickly, and the article in Newsweek would be all about that.
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