Punitive measures not solving issues

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: January 27 2014 | 3:16 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:44 am in

In placing blame for the financial fiasco at the 6th Judicial District Department of Corrections on former director Gary Hinzman, AFSCME President Danny Homan makes a statement that needs to be addressed.

He states that “community-based corrections nonmanagement staff work tirelessly and with dedication to help prepare offenders to fully rejoin society.” (“Correctional workers want some answers,” Jan. 18). However, this is questionable at best.

First, of nearly 400 inmates at the Linn County Jail, almost half of them are in jail for violating rules in the community corrections setting, including probation, parole and the halfway house. Many of these men and women are returned to community corrections, others back to prison, after an average county jail stay of 60 to 90 days, and are required to pay the additional $60 a day jail fee or can be returned to jail again. In fact, many of the alleged violations actually are minor, technical ones that do not involve new criminal conduct.

How are these punitive measures by community corrections staff helping “prepare offenders to fully rejoin society,” as Homan states? This heavy-handedness by corrections officials presents more of a gauntlet to these offenders than anything and provides discouragement and a sure disincentive for them to do better in the

future.

Even though there are some dedicated and hardworking staff in community corrections, not once since Homan became AFSCME president has he sought the governor, Iowa Legislature, or parole board to decrease the prison population to alleviate the “understaffing” that he always raves about.

Charles A. Trobaugh

Linn County Correctional Center

Cedar Rapids

 

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