Vail Daily letter: Jail works as is
This letter is in response to the letter in support of James van Beek from Bill Kaufman. An important fact that wasn’t mentioned in his letter is that he is the captain of the Eagle County Jail. His opinion is a very valuable perspective to consider with the upcoming election for sheriff. I am very blessed to be in the jail three nights a week co-facilitating a restorative justice class. I would have to agree with him that it is a safe place and offers a lot of opportunity for personal growth to the inmates — the goal being to release a person that is better than the one who was arrested.
I worry about any large changes to the way our jail works. Making changes to increase safety sounds to me like making it a stricter, more traditional jail. My fear is that major changes in that direction could actually take away from the effectiveness of our jail. Part of what makes our jail so successful and unique is the availability of rehabilitative programs and the utilitarian approach to treating the inmates. Other jails that are more traditional treat inmates like prisoners, just another number. In our jail, inmates are treated with respect and talked to like human beings.
I have personally spoken to James and he is very passionate about the method of leadership in our jail. He has assured me that with his leadership as sheriff, our jail will continue to move in the progressive and effective direction. He believes that jail should be a place in which individuals are taught to be better rather than solely punished. Releasing an individual that does not re-offend not only saves taxpayers money, but it also prevents future victims. With our restorative justice program, recidivism is 10 percent compared to the national average of 67-83 percent. I believe the proof is in the numbers. With such a low recidivism rate, doesn’t it seem like the purpose is being fulfilled as is? “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Food for thought in the upcoming election.
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