Re "Day 1 for deputies: Go to jail," Column One, Nov. 25
Your article describes a jail environment that destroys the humanity of its inmates and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department jailers assigned to guard them. The article quotes county special counsel James G. Kolts' 1992 observation that the jail environment is so corrosive that it is liable to "turn any young, inexperienced man or woman into a cynical authoritarian ready to harass, intimidate, bully and physically punish any person who does not immediately follow orders." The police beatings we see on television are consistent with Kolts' conclusions.
The county jail system is an embarrassment to an enlightened society. Dehumanized inmates and dehumanized jailers are a threat to everyone when they walk the streets. The county Board of Supervisors has a responsibility to put humane treatment back into the jail system.
\f7With overcrowding at most county jails, and state prisons bursting at the seams, is it any wonder that these institutions are breeding grounds for violence, disease and racial tensions? Add to this already volatile mix animosity from sheriff's deputies, who are overworked and resentful of being cast in the role of baby-sitters to inmates who lack rehabilitative programs, and you end up with the current environment.
As long as inmates are warehoused like canned goods, without any positive outlets, hopelessness and despair will continue to feed the vicious cycle of violence and mistrust that threatens the safety of correctional staff and inmates alike.