In a far corner of a brown filing cabinet sits a manila folder, carefully labeled “Jail Mail.”
For the first time in a long time, that folder is empty.
There are no letters recounting experiences of mistreatment or malnutrition of jail inmates. There are no letters portraying misconduct of employees or rampant infections or diseases transmitted to inmates and employees. There are no letters balking the arrest reports filed by law enforcement officials as suspects and offenders are brought to the Laurel County Detention Center.
There are representatives of the jail at every Town Hall meeting and every Laurel County Fiscal Court meeting. There are public sightings and returned phone calls by Jailer Jamie Mosley, since at the helm of the once secretive and silent facility that houses those accused of crimes.
Reports of renovations continue to flow into public information meetings, with plans to continue providing services needed to those who unfortunately find themselves incarcerated in Laurel County. Inmates have opportunity to work towards earning their GED, thus giving them incentive to seek better paying jobs upon their release. Reports that the faith-based Celebrate Recovery classes are at at full enrollment with each segment is proof that rehabilitation and restoration of self has become a goal for many who wish to live a full and productive life after serving their sentence.
While being incarcerated has never been portrayed as a desirable goal, those who find themselves behind the bars and isolated from society can find hope, if they choose to. The new administration at the local jail has brought self-respect back into perspective for the employees and the inmates as well as reassuring the general public that even those who have lost many of their privileges still are given hope for a better life outside those walls.
A jail should function simply as that — a jail. It by no means should ever be thought of as a resort. It is a place where offenders must pay for their crimes and have plenty of time to rethink their choices. But a jail can be a facility in which people of all backgrounds and situations are treated humanely and are offered a chance to refine their lives in a more productive manner. Such measures may not work on all people, and may not last with many others. But the efforts of Mosley and his staff to provide the proper care and treatment of those inside those walls is one step in the right direction. A jail should never be a place of refuge nor should it be a place of torment. Lumping a group of people together in close quarters will always present its challenges, but Mosley’s dedication to ensuring the safety and smooth operation of the facility has changed the views of both those inside and outside to a much more respectable level.
With the leadership we have seen over the past 16 months that Mosley has been in charge, I expect the “Jail Mail” folder to remain empty for a long time ahead.