Niagara Gazette

Features

August 5, 2012

LEADERSHIP CHRONICLES: Jail and court for me and my LN classmates

Niagara Gazette — I went to jail the other day. I learned its true what they say about the food there.

Lunch came in a big, gray plastic box about 2 inches high, with compartments for canned beans, applesauce, a handful of chips and a pile of sloppy Joe’s that lived up to its name, with a small bun plopped at the side of the pile. 

And, while we did not eat with the inmates, and while I was starving and trying to be a good sport, I couldn’t eat much. The battered plastic, worn by hundreds of washes, reminded me of all the prisoners who ate from this tray before me, their lives broken by bad judgement and circumstances.

On that very same day I spent time in a court room, watched a police dog drag a man by his arm; and went nearly deaf from a shock bomb.

It was “Law Enforcement Day” for my Leadership Niagara class, a session that immersed my 2012 class into the agencies throughout Niagara keep us safe.  

There was so much to take in on this non-stop adventure created by LN director Molly Anderson — who reportedly feels very guilty about making the classes eat jail food. But, it was an unforgettable day.

Here are some of my impressions.

You don’t want to go to jail.  Those who worry about making jail too comfortable would be happy to know that the renovated and expanded facility in Niagara County is no hotel. There are levels of residency there that provide the inmates with increasing amounts of space for good behavior. The worst ones stay in compact little cells with nearly no space to walk, called, fittingly, “the hole,” by inmates. Those who behave can spend time out of their cells, which overlook a giant open pod where they can move about freely within a football field sized area with cafeteria and televisions.  But only if they follow all the rules. The worst ones stay in compact little cells with nearly no space to walk, called, fittingly, “the hole,” by inmates.

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