I have been watching the news and the Ferguson incident spoke to me in a way that encouraged me to write this letter.
I saw the hopelessness of those who were surrounded by police and the National Guard. In the past it would not have moved me, however, I recently experienced the feeling of being at the mercy of the Corrections Department.
I drove to Williamsburg to pick up someone who had gone to court and was declared innocent of all charges. I arrived at The Virginia Peninsula Regional jail at two o'clock. The trial ended at 12:30 p.m. and the lawyer told me it might take some time for the jail to process him out.
I thought he ought to be released by two o'clock, so I waited until three before calling the jail number and asked if the person I was waiting for would be out any time soon. I was told he was still in court and there was nothing they could do.
I am 70 years old and under a doctor's care, a fact that I told the intake and release officer. I was afraid to leave because I thought I might miss him. I spoke with other inmates who were released and picked up by their family members who had also been to court that day.
It was eight o'clock before my friend came out of the jail. I had waited six hours in the hot parking lot. I was in a bind, afraid to make a scene because I was at their mercy.
I made several phone calls to the officers on duty and their responses were rude. It was almost like they were enjoying my discomfort. My friend had been locked in a cell since two o'clock and the officers on duty kept telling me he was in court.
Having worked at the Northern Neck Regional Jail, I know the precautions taken to know where inmates are at all times. There are cameras in every pod and in the halls. That jail was run efficiently and I assumed the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail was the same. I ended up in the emergency room several days later and was given medicine for anxiety.
The Corrections Department is a powerful entity in Virginia. I believe the Corrections Department has forgotten its' role to protect citizens from violent people. There are many people locked up due to mental illness and addiction. I believe the diagnosis manual counselors use lists addiction as a disease.
The feeling I have now is fear and anxiety whenever I see a Department of Corrections officer. In the past I saw them as a helpful entity that was there for my protection.
Linda S Bartlett
Many of our country's socio-economic problems could be resolved by creating a new draft system that requires all men and women 18 years old to enlist the military for two years if able.
This draft would:
• Provide folks in the upper and lower socio-economic ranges hope, skills, self-reliance, maturity, respect for authority and camraderie. Those are the positive things the military does when it converts young kids into young confident military men and women.
• Teach those without skill sets a skill that could lead to a lifelong trade either in the military or in civilian life.
• Greatly reduce crime and unemployment.
• Continue to provide a GI Bill with benefits to education.
• Provide healthcare with the Veterans Administration.
• Stimulate the economy.