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Pre-trial inmates at the county jail are treated unfairly at times

To The Daily Sun,

My approaching month in confinement (at the Belknap County Jail) started off with frightening emotions and thoughts of unfamiliarity. The initial contact and customs with correctional officers and jail inmates may overwhelm even the toughest of minds. Hope seems to be found through camaraderie during a time of partiality that is un-favoring to the pre-trial inmate.

As a pre-trial inmate unable to post bail, one clings to the warmth that is the idea of the presumption of innocence. This inherent constitutional right is suppose to protect many of the fundamental generosities that we enjoy in everyday life. Unfortunately for many unable to post bail, economics trumps, creating a disparity between defendants from affluent families and those from impoverished circumstances.

Strangely, at Belknap County Jail, there is evidence showing that pre-trial inmates are treated in worse respects than sentenced inmates who have been adjudicated guilty. Those inmates who have been found guilty are labeled minimum security and enjoy amenities greater than pre-trial inmates who are dictated medium security.

The minimum security inmates at the jail enjoy an environment mirroring that of a boys summer camp. They enjoy a larger room with individual beds, and many windows to literally and figuratively lighten their atmosphere with sunlight. They enjoy a common area with amenities that include a microwave, personal refrigeration, and are able to regulate the time. Further, minimum security inmates enjoy working privileges, and have a relaxed correctional officers presence, often governing themselves in a space far exceeding that of pre-trial inmates.

The medium security amenities for defendants awaiting their day in court are less than acceptable. The jail's inmate handbook attempts to explain that pre-trial inmates are housed in pods and dorms but fail to accurately describe what these are. These pods and dorms are mostly cement walls stacked on cement floors and colored in a dismal bluish-gray. They allow for very little sunlight to pierce the integrity of what very little space exists. Alactraz-like bars are substituted for contemporary plexiglass windows, but do not alleviate the gloomy, depressing, lifeless atmosphere represented by these rooms.

Additionally troubling are the showers where pre-trial inmates are subjected to the possibility of contracting diseases such as mercer or scabies. Vents polluted with mold are also a threat — cycling spores on a daily basis and increasing the risk of potential illness.

As previously stated, the facility allows sentenced inmates to work. In its discretion the facility may allow pre-trial inmates to work if their bail does not exceed $5,000 cash, and upon signing of a work waiver. This limitation is for protection and security of the facility but needlessly creates a bias between pre-trial inmates. Those inmates whose bail is higher than $5,000 cash should have the same option and courtesy to work and further the efficiency of the jail, regardless of bail limitations.

Our society is predicated on such optimism where the alleged risk should be exceeded by a defendant's right to be considered and presumed innocent.

This should be extended not only in a courtroom, but also in related correctional matters. With failing amenities, and such disparity, it is not surprising that supervision is lacking.

Correctional officers at Belknap County Jail come in an array or personalities, stretching from ethical and pleasant to emotionally questionable.

Pre-trial inmates are treated unfairly at times and in too controlling of a manner, which is inconsistent with the cloak of innocence. Too much discretion is given to the facility regarding pre-trial inmates. This results in too much infringement upon First and Fourth Amendment freedoms. Many pre-trial inmates fail to express opinion for fear of being moved to "the hole" — solitary confinement. This breeds oppression for those individuals whose guilt has yet to be determined, and creates fear of being sanctioned by the jail.

Understanding that we do not live in a perfect system of justice. I cannot however accept that the presumption of innocence fails to cloak and extend to those pre-trial inmates unable to make bail, yet it seems evident by the mere amenities provided, and the treatment of its pre-trial inmates that this is the case. The theory should be more than a mere assumption granted to someone in a courtroom. It should shroud a citizen until such time that their guilty is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Joey Woodbury



Pre-trial inmate

Belknap County Jail



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Pat Buchanan - Dishonoring General Andrew Jackson

In Samuel Eliot Morison's "The Oxford History of the American People," there is a single sentence about Harriet Tubman: "An illiterate field hand, (Tubman) not only escaped herself but returned repeatedly and guided more than 300 slaves to freedom."

Morison, however, devotes most of five chapters to the greatest soldier-statesman in American history, save Washington, that pivotal figure between the Founding Fathers and the Civil War — Andrew Jackson.

Slashed by a British officer in the Revolution, and a POW at 14, the orphaned Jackson went west, rose to head up the Tennessee militia, crushed an Indian uprising at Horseshoe Bend, Alabama, in the War of 1812, then was ordered to New Orleans to defend the threatened city. In one of the greatest victories in American history, memorialized in song, Jackson routed a British army and aborted a British scheme to seize New Orleans, close the Mississippi, and split the Union.

In 1818, ordered to clean out renegade Indians rampaging in Georgia, Jackson stormed into Florida, seized and hanged two British agitators, put the Spanish governor on a boat to Cuba, and claimed Florida for the USA. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams closed the deal. Florida was ours, and Jacksonville is among its great cities.

Though he ran first in popular and electoral votes in 1824, Jackson was denied the presidency by the "corrupt bargain" of Adams and Henry Clay, who got secretary of state.

Jackson came back to win the presidency in 1828, recognized the Texas republic of his old subaltern Sam Houston, who had torn it from Mexico, and saw his vice president elected after his two terms.

He ended his life at his beloved Hermitage, pushing for the annexation of Texas and nomination of "dark horse" James K. Polk, who would seize the Southwest and California from Mexico and almost double the size of the Union.

Was Jackson responsible for the Cherokees' "Trail of Tears"? Yes. And Harry Truman did Hiroshima, and Winston Churchill did Dresden.

Great men are rarely good men, and Jackson was a Scots-Irish duelist, Indian fighter and slave owner. But then, Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe were slave owners before him.

To remove his portrait from the front of the $20 bill, and replace it with Tubman's, is affirmative action that approaches the absurd. Whatever one's admiration for Tubman and her cause, she is not the figure in history Jackson was.

Indeed, if the fight against slavery is the greatest cause in our history, why not honor John Brown, hanged for his raid on Harper's Ferry to start a revolution to free the slaves, after he butchered slave owners in "Bleeding Kansas"? John Brown was the real deal.

But replacing Jackson with Tubman is not the only change coming.

The back of the $5 bill will soon feature Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, and opera singer Marian Anderson, who performed at the Lincoln Memorial after being kept out of segregated Constitution Hall in 1939.

That act of race discrimination came during the second term of FDR, Eleanor's husband and the liberal icon who named Klansman Hugo Black to the Supreme Court and put 110,000 Japanese into concentration camps.

And, lest we forget, while Abraham Lincoln remains on the front of the $5 bill, the war he launched cost 620,000 dead, and his beliefs in white supremacy and racial separatism were closer to those of David Duke than Dr. King.

Alexander Hamilton, the architect of the American economy, will stay on the $10 bill, due in part to the intervention of hip-hop artists from the popular musical, "Hamilton," in New York.

But Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth, who fought for women's suffrage, will be put on the back of the $10. While Anthony and Stanton appear in Morison's history, Sojourner Truth does not.

Added up, while dishonoring Andrew Jackson, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is putting on the U.S. currency six women — three white, three African-American — and King.

No Catholics, no conservatives, no Hispanics, no white males were apparently even considered.

This is affirmative action raised to fanaticism, a celebration of President Obama's views and values, and a recasting of our currency to make Obama's constituents happy at the expense of America's greatest heroes and historic truth. Leftist role models for American kids now take precedence over the history of our Republic in those we honor.

While King already has a holiday and monument in D.C., were the achievements of any of these six women remotely comparable to what the six men honored on our currency — Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Jackson, President Grant and Ben Franklin — achieved?

Whatever may be said for Eleanor Roosevelt, compared to her husband, she is an inconsequential figure in American history.

In the dystopian novel, "1984," Winston Smith labors in the Ministry of Truth, dropping down the "memory hole" stories that must be rewritten to re-indoctrinate the party and proles in the new history, as determined by Big Brother. Jack Lew would have fit right in there.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

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