To paraphrase Fyodor Dostoyevsky from his classic “Crime and Punishment,” a society’s moral quality can be seen in how it treats its inmates. I am currently an inmate at the Clark County Jail. The recent suicides of two inmates should be a call to action for the residents of this community. Living conditions as well as health services in this jail have so deteriorated due to budget cuts that the “at risk” population with mental health issues is forced closer to and sometimes over the proverbial cliff.
These deaths are a sentinel event for the voters of Clark County; ignore them and more will follow. Encourage outside agencies to investigate the conditions at the jail; internal investigators will never solve the problems because their interest lies primarily in protecting themselves from blame.
To acknowledge Dostoyevsky’s wisdom you must recognize your responsibility to those who you wish to lock up. The conditions at the jail say very damning things about Vancouver and Clark County. Will you continue, dear voter, to allow saving money to cost lives? The choice is yours to respond to these cries for help.
Dusty S. Nielsen