Editor, Times-Union:

My first thought is to reply to an earlier LTE about the Kosciusko County Jail. Unless you have actually been inside the jail, the cells, seen the inmates, their living quarters and talked to the jailers, I would guard against being too critical. 

Our jail was designed to get inmates to court when needed without a lot of extra transport. The jail is not huge like other county jails out in the country.

When I was a part of the jail ministry, I went in for several years to minister and encourage the inmates, mostly the ladies. I remember as a child going into Yuma, Ariz., and seeing the old outdoor prison that is no longer used. There was absolutely nothing there but drab cells, bars for doors and planks for beds. It was also extremely hot. That vision really stuck with me. People actually lived in there with those conditions. 

When people break the laws, we no longer put them in stockades or shackles, but they get to live in quarters with a TV, air conditioning, running water and toilets and along with the sleeping cells, they have a dayroom to stretch their legs. There is another cell with a basketball court for activity. There are government regulations to run a jail whether or not society agrees or not. 

Things can and will go wrong in any place. As long as inmates decide that they want to be “criminal” minded even behind bars, there will be troublemakers. 

People poke at our local jail, but fail to realize what inmates do and try to get away with at regular prisons. If there is a will, there is a way to be creative with common everyday items.

So, to stop the drugs and criminal activity, do we put every inmate in shackles and stockades again? Probably the best solution is to bring in drug detection dogs randomly and make surprise sweeps of the jail multiple times a week. 

I feel that Sheriff Dukes is doing a great job and while he will encounter the random problem-maker and equipment breakdown, he is working on changing outlook and behavior in the jail. The classes and programs the jail offers are changing lives and giving people hope and encouragement probably for the first and only time in their lives. The jail ministry comes in and tells them about God and how their lives can change by putting their faith and trust in God. 

Chaplain John Boren, who has passed away, never stood in judgement when he saw the same faces over and over again, but just kept loving them. John knew that at some point, the inmate would finally get it and finally want to make a life change. For people swept up in the world of drugs, it gets to be the only life they know, so to step away is hard and might bring severe consequences from the cartel chain handlers so they might be afraid. 

So instead of being critical, please pray for the people daily who run the jail and for those who are in the jail.

Jennifer Blair

Warsaw, via email