Black and White Cars and Stripes

Yesterday, I had lunch with Sheriff’s Captain Linda Scown. She runs the Ada County jail. Just coincidently, we also had a surprise quarterly jail inspection scheduled that very afternoon as well.

In one of those quirky legal oddities, we as county commissioners are responsible for conducting quarterly jail inspections, although it is the Ada County Sheriff’s Office that actually operates the jail.

During the inspections, we walk through the jail and work-release facilities, looking for maintenance and cleaning issues that have not been addressed. We always find a few things for the county’s Operations Department to address, such as paint that is worn or chipping.

On a positive note, last month, the professional kitchen staff at the jail spent a mere 82 cents per inmate meal served. It’s not exactly gourmet fare, but these are relatively nutritious meals that supply the necessary caloric intake for each inmate each day.

In other good news, female inmates make all of the simple, scrubs-style jail uniforms, while others wash and fold inmate uniforms and linens, saving taxpayer dollars while accomplishing needed tasks.

It’s never fun being inside the jail with 900-plus inmates, but yesterday it was with a sense of foreboding and particularly strong emotions – grief, rage and repugnance – that we trudged through the areas of the jail in which the mother of Robert Manwill, and her boyfriend, are being held as suspects in the little boy’s heinous and shocking murder.

Let’s hope the loss of this little boy will change the way in which child protection decisions are made in Idaho. The Department of Health and Welfare strives to reunite families whenever possible. I believe the children’s health, safety and welfare should be a higher priority than the parental rights of those who abuse their children.

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