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Letter to the Editor: Lack of staffing leads to neglect

Well Jay Morris, you seemed to have missed the point of the letter. My letter focused on the fact that Fulton County Jail lacked staffing which led to neglect. It isn’t only a “southern” problem. We do in fact have bed bugs, lice, vermin, and filth here, but that isn’t the point. The point is that lack of staffing leads to neglect.

You mentioned going back to “Lime Cell” days. I think you meant a Special Housing Unit (SHU) or solitary confinement which does still exist. How do you think men in a Psychiatric Services Unit are housed? In a SHU. You think they are out eating cupcakes in the sun? That said, these inmates don’t care one bit how they are housed. If you think SHU housing will prevent them from committing crime like in the” olden days” you are sadly mistaken. If anything, it only makes them more dangerous.

I’m going to give you a break because it seems like your only knowledge of prisons is an Old Folsom guided tour and some Johnny Cash songs. Johnny Cash, by the way, was a prison reform activist and would admonish you for what you said about “what works!!” He wasn’t wrong either. That “babying” you are referring to has resulted in a significant decrease in crime over the past 30 years. Aligning to when prisons became more about rehabilitation and treatment and less about “what works!!” Further, you should thank your lucky stars that any treatment is happening in prison at all, because these men will be in your neighborhood depending on their sentence, and they are not supervised by parole, but by probation now for the most part. (I have noticed quite a few job vacancies in Plumas County Probation as well. Let that help you sleep at night.) You don’t want to fund “babying” mental health treatment and adequate rehabilitative support in jails and prisons, but you want to blame mental illness after the fact when it is convenient.

That said, getting back to the point. Inadequate staffing leads to neglect, which leads to lawsuits and people getting hurt. That goes for all aspects of law enforcement whether you live in the south or the west. I suspect that what Jay and others really don’t like is the idea of progress. That aversion to progress isn’t getting us anywhere, in fact, it is preventing us from recruiting and maintaining a valuable workforce in Plumas County. Afterall this is the 21st century and not 1930.

Kathy Wickman

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