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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Incarceration Conditions

By Vicky Foley


April 27, 2016
Wednesday AM

As a community, I believe we need to get a better understanding of addiction. I am not saying I know the answers, but I do think that the way we punish those people that get arrested for drug charges needs to be reassessed. Here in Ketchikan, our facilities are not suitable for retaining a person for very long.

For one thing, the outside area is a 20 foot by 30 foot concrete slab. I understand the sunlight does not even hit that area. The inmates are allowed one hour a day to walk in a circle on this concrete slab. Most inmates do not even take the option to go outside, even though that is the only time they are allowed to do. One other option is to go to the “law library” that is outdate, old law books. It seems they should at least have basketball court or weight room to provide physical activity.

I believe this is cruel and unusual punishment. I would not allow my pet to be treated like this. I think we provide better facilities for our animals in our community. I am sure even in lock down, maximum security prisons such as Guantanamo Bay, people are given better treatment.

This is a disgrace to our community. I think all district attorneys should visit the jail and see where they are sending these people. Many of which are our youth. It would also be of value for community members to tour these facilities. Many people are being held here for around a year.

There was an example of a situation of someone who was being incarnated here where the jail mate was stealing the other person’s pillow when he went to sleep. He complained to the guard and nothing was done. After awhile the inmate pushed the obnoxious jail mate against the rails, and he in turn was put on lock down for a length of time.

These conditions concern me. I think we will look back and be ashamed of how we provided care for our community members that are suffering a drug addiction problem. From what I know, some people are more prone to becoming addicted than others. It is unknown territory for in a large part, but how we treat those that are arrested and placed in jail needs to change.

Vicky Foley
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received April 24, 2016 - Published April 27, 2016




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