Inside story


I am a general population inmate at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail and I’m compelled to respond to the rant in the February 26 issue of C-VILLE regarding a caller’s alleged “pampered with pizza, candy and Super Bowl TV” treatment of the local inmates. This “absolutely horrified” ranter compares the local jail to a “daycare” facility, and further, claims to be (as a victim) suffering worse treatment than the inmates.

Firstly, I feel the deepest sympathy for this caller and for any other person who has been victimized by another through the perpetration of a crime. Having been on the receiving end of a property crime, I know the feeling of violation and helplessness. The frustration and indignation is intense, lasting, and at times, overwhelming. I can only guess at the ferocity of those feelings if said crime was of a personal and violent nature. Being victimized is an ungodly thing and unfortunately, I am surrounded by such people in this jail. Many men and women, otherwise compassionate and talented people, who have been victimized since childhood. Fractured families, physical abuse, no practical education, and devastatingly, no guidance whatsoever. These precious souls grow up without direction and, I feel, are simply not equipped to explore and contemplate the consequences of their actions on others. As for the nonvictims in here? To me, most seem educated, empathetic people who have made very poor decisions at very low points in their lives. I have yet to meet an evil person here.

I feel the ranter would prefer we inmates were all housed in a grimy, dirt-floor facility, abounding with feces and urine, fighting each other for scraps of food. Would anyone wish this for their younger, A-student brother? Their father who foolishly got behind the wheel with alcohol in his system? Or a homeless youth with no family—drugs became their only support? Suffering human beings are this jail’s majority. All of them—fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.

Thanks to God, we all have the good fortune to live in the greatest country in the world. A union of compassionate states that believe in providing the opportunity of rehabilitation for its people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Prisoners are encouraged into programs of education and self-discovery to chance their outlook and approach to life; to be able to live freely and productively with God and their communities; to heal. In whose hands are we really suffering? Under whose treatment are we subject?

A.C.R. Jail is no daycare facility. This is a concrete and steel jail. There is no “pizza, candy and Super Bowl night.” I was here. If pizza was delivered to the jail, it was for the staff and a select few “trustee inmates” who paid for it out of their own pockets as all inmates here must do for anything received. Yes, there is a TV in each housing unit, fuzzy and volume-less. It’s a very minor distraction from the fact that our actions have caused us the infliction of the greatest pain on our families and ourselves, disagree in the face of our communities, total loss of all personal freedoms and decision making, and for those of us who have created victims. That horror is an unending, hellish nightmare of the deepest sorrow and regret….

This is jail. It’s not fun here.

Jon Hartline

Living in a vacuum

Your article on why paperless isn’t happening “Between the sheets," February 26, 2008] reminded me of a story I heard about the introduction of the vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner was intended to make keeping floors and carpets clean easier, more effective, more efficient, faster. Instead, it raised the standard of “clean”; because the vacuum cleaner could keep the floor cleaner, people expected floors to be cleaner…so they had to work just as hard, just differently. It seems to me that the computer and the printer are having the same effect: Because we can now, easily, get a perfect copy of everything, or because we can now have a copy of whatever we want wherever we are (no need to carry paper around), we DO it. Human nature.

Martha Dahlen
Campbell, California