Letter at length

Sheriff should not limit prisoners' mail

Was anyone else upset or disturbed to learn (see Daily Tidings, Jan. 5) that Sheriff Winters has decided to save time and money by limiting prisoners' mail, both incoming and outgoing, to postcards only? To me, this decision feels harsh, cruel, inhumane. In writing the following letter to Sheriff Winters, I was tempted to ask: "What would Jesus do?" but restrained myself. If you have feelings similar to mine, I hope you'll write the sheriff, too.

Dear Sheriff Winters:

I am appalled by your unfortunate decision to save money by limiting inmates' communication with the outside world to sending and receiving only postcards. Prisoners are already powerless, depersonalized, marginalized and at the effect of countless restrictions and limitations designed to keep them oppressed, resentful and rebellious.

To further deprive inmates of this one small, personal, private means of expression and connection with their families, merely for the sake of efficiency and cost-saving, is, in my opinion, short-sighted, mean- spirited and demeaning. In the long run, I believe rehabilitation would save far more taxpayer money than further restrictions and limitations of prisoners' rights and freedom. Rehabilitation is achieved through compassion, forgiveness, mercy and humane treatment, not by increasing oppression and humiliation.

Furthermore, this cold-hearted decision reflects badly on Jackson County. Please follow the dignified, civilized choice of Multnomah County prison officials and continue to allow prisoners to have open communication with their family and loved ones.

I strongly urge you to reconsider your decision and find less punitive ways to save money. I suggest you invite volunteers to sort and open inmate mail. I gladly offer my time and energy to perform this service and will happily enlist other volunteers as well. Please contact me to implement this offer. My phone number is (541) 482-3269.


Dot Fisher-Smith


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