Letter to the editor: Jail agenda

To the editor:

How unfortunate for our community, particularly those of us incarcerated in the Douglas County Jail, that Undersheriff Gary Bunting has chosen to pursue a bold political agenda rather than a logical correctional strategy as he faces the challenges of excess inmate population.

Rather than double the occupancy of the private cells in the maximum and medium security pods as needed to accommodate the inmates he is unable to farm out to other facilities, he chooses to mix populations from one pod to another and is thereby “forced” to house inmates in re-entry classrooms with no running water — which, besides creating obvious sanitary problems, all but shuts down the jail’s already dysfunctional re-entry program — and, in order not to mix security levels within the pod, to impose a 23-hour lockdown (a.k.a. solitary confinement) on medium security inmates, many of whom are presumably presumed innocent since they have not been convicted of charges such as DUI or drug possession.

All of this happens as Mr. Bunting continues to deny for over three years now any form of interactive physical recreation to medium and maximum security inmates in the large, secure (former basketball court) outdoor area. Apparently handballs, Nerf balls and hacky sacks are considered too dangerous.

Please don’t take this the wrong way, because I am 100 percent in favor of funding a county jail expansion. But for the present and foreseeable future this jail is all we have, and holding the mental health of the current residents hostage for the $44 million needed to build a new one seems a bit much, even for a law enforcement agency.

Daniel Martin,

Baldwin City

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