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08-21-08, 10:57 PM #1
Sheriff checked hiimself into jail....just because
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran's in the jailhouse now
With week in the clink, official intends to gain perspective on how to help inmates succeed after they have left prison
By Andrew L. Wang | Chicago Tribune reporter 7:39 PM CDT, August 20, 2008
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran stands for a booking photograph as he puts himself through the process of being admitted into the Lake County Jail. Curran plans to voluntarily spend a week in the jail to study how jail programs may be improved. (Tribune photo by David Trotman-Wilkins / August 20, 2008)
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran walked into the county jail in Waukegan on Wednesday wearing a gray suit and necktie, but before long he changed into the outfit he'll wear for the next week: a navy blue inmate uniform and a pair of ill-fitting, plastic jail slippers.
"It's somewhat surreal," said Curran, who was elected to his post in 2006 after stints as a county, state and federal prosecutor.
Moments before, jail deputies—who referred to Curran as "Sir"—booked him into the jail's system. He was fingerprinted, a nurse took his blood pressure ("139 over 88," he said. "Is that high?") and a deputy clipped a plastic identification bracelet on his right wrist. Then came the mug shot.
Rarely has the booking of an inmate at the jail drawn as much attention—as dozens of reporters, photographers and cameramen documented Curran's every move.
A publicity stunt? Perhaps. Curran attributes the idea of a voluntary, seven-day foray among those on other side of the law as a way to raise awareness of the jail's anti-recidivism efforts and glean firsthand knowledge of how it can improve on those programs.
"I believe that I can be a better sheriff by having a better understanding of jail operations from the perspective of an inmate," he said at a news conference. "Because the idea came to me in a church, I believe it is divinely inspired."
Curran, a Catholic who couched his reasoning for going to jail in terms of redemption and forgiveness and often intersperses his public comments with religious terms, said he was attending a law-enforcement leadership conference at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington when "a light bulb kind of went off in my head."
The sheriff saved his fire and brimstone for the Illinois Department of Corrections, which he blamed for allowing conditions that led gangs to gestate within the walls of its prisons.
The state prison system "has treated inmates like caged animals, only to see them released back into their communities angrier and more bitter than they originally were," he said.
Curran said he intends to learn how to improve programs to help inmates succeed on the outside and draw attention to initiatives in the jail that might work at state prisons.
The sheriff will spend his first three nights in one of the jail's dorm-style accommodations, according to jail officials. While other inmates in that area sleep in beds arranged in rows in a large room, the sheriff will have his own 6-by-8-foot cell. From there he will spend two nights in a general population cell that is one of several arranged around a day room where inmates play cards and watch television. Curran also will spend a night in the maximum-security segregation unit and the jail's medical unit, he said.
During the days he will participate in a substance abuse support group and take GED, computer and "family communication" classes, as well as work in the kitchen and work on a road cleanup crew. He will eat with other inmates, he said, though jail food is not his "cup of tea."
The jail houses about 650 inmates, most awaiting trial; charges range from petty misdemeanors to sexual assault and murder. Curran said he had been assured by jail officials that he would not be in danger.
"Him being my boss, I wouldn't even allow this if I didn't think it was reasonably safe," said Jennifer Witherspoon, the sheriff's department chief of corrections.
Curran said he cleared most of his schedule for the week so he can stay in jail, though he will leave the jail for a few meetings. Undersheriff Charles Fagan will run the department in Curran's absence.
In a holding cell near where Curran was booked, several men stared through a layer of reinforced glass, quizzical looks on their faces as a throng of news media swarmed.
Personalizing issues to drum up media coverage is nothing new for Chicago-area public officials. In 1981 Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne famously moved into the notorious Cabrini-Green housing projects to highlight conditions there. More recently, 10th District Democratic House candidate Dan Seals in May sponsored a campaign event in which customers at a Lincolnshire gas station paid only $1.85 a gallon for 10 gallons of gas that was selling for $4.14 a gallon; he covered the difference and worked the pump.
Kane County Sheriff Patrick Perez said he thought Curran's jail stint was "a novel idea," but not one he would consider because he already has "a very good understanding of the criminal justice system."
Waukegan Police Chief Bill Biang said he won't be following Curran into the joint.
"If he thinks that will make him a better sheriff to understand what's going on in the jail from the inside, God bless him," Biang said. "It wouldn't be something that I would line up to do, to be perfectly honest with you."I'm not ruining your life, you are, and I'm just going to write a short story about it.
08-22-08, 01:02 AM #2
This guy is out there. I would not do this, but of course I'm an LEO, not an administrator who has never been a cop.Romans 8:28-31
"Anima Sana In Corpore Sano"
The opinions, beliefs, and ideas expressed in this post are mine, and mine alone. They are NOT the opinions, beliefs, ideas, or policies of my Agency, Sheriff, County Board, or any member of my department.
08-22-08, 01:03 AM #3
This guy will no more be treated like an average inmate than Obama undestands the plight of the average man! Anyone who has ever worked in a county knows the Sheriff has a long memory!For the morning will come. Brightly will it shine on the brave and true, kindly upon all who suffer for the cause, glorious upon the tombs of heroes. Thus will shine the dawn.
08-22-08, 05:13 AM #4
I couldn't agree more, Keith, I was thinking the same thing as I was reading it. No way will he be treated like an inmate even if a Sheriff was a fair person and didn't have a memory, he's the boss no matter what. The only thing I see happening is the inmates where ever the Sheriff is housed will be being treated alot better for the next 7 days
My dad, I miss him every day.
Originally Posted by Wolven
Life is too short to wear unsexy underwear.
I am a female!!!!! LMAO
Be who you are and say what you feel.....
Because those that matter...don't mind...
And those that mind...don't matter
08-22-08, 05:49 AM #5Pleasing nobody, one person at a time.
That which does not kill me, better start fucking running.
If I lived every day like it was my last, the body count would be staggering.
I intend to go in harm's way. -John Paul Jones
Hunt the wolf, and bring light to the dark places that others fear to go. LT COL Dave Grossman
08-22-08, 06:22 PM #6
would be funny if he got butt raped by a large inmate.
butt that is not going to happen
"A strong man stands up for himself. A stronger man stands up for others."
The old sheriff was attending an awards dinner when a lady commented
on his wearing his sidearm. "Sheriff, I see you have your pistol. Are you
expecting trouble?" "No Ma'am. If I were expecting trouble, I would have
brought my rifle."
(just stole this one hope you don't mind)
The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant,
it is just that they know so much that isn't so.
President Ronald Reagan
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