April 28, 2014
By Lovisa Stannow, The New Yorker
Toobin’s article provides a few valuable insights into why some corrections facilities are plagued by intimidation and violence. But, instead of examining the role of corrections leaders in creating safe facilities, Toobin focusses on the “cynical and devious men [who] succeeded in dominating women who were nominally their keepers.” In doing so, he does not sufficiently address the jail management’s responsibility for insuring that staff members can do their jobs, no matter how difficult the circumstances. Perhaps more troubling is Toobin’s view that B.C.D.C.’s location in a poor part of Baltimore is “inevitably problematic.” In fact, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are marginalized areas -- including Miami-Dade County, which, like Baltimore, has a major gang problem -- with jails that have lower than average rates of sexual abuse. The difference is that those facilities have strong management, well-trained staff, and safer practices. The true scandal is the people who run the jail, not the community that surrounds it.
Just Detention International
Los Angeles, Calif.
Originally posted at http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/letters/2014/04/28/140428mama_mail