The Downside Of Breaking The Law: Week 4 Of County U

Melva Gomez- Briefly, County U participants were truly a captive audience.  Week four of County U involved presentations by Sheriff McRae and his staff; Mayor Mac Woodward and council members; and a tour of the Walker County Jail.

Walker County Sheriff’s Offices

The program began with Sheriff McRae explaining his duties as Sheriff; Lieutenant Perkins describing an investigation from report to incarceration; and Captain Fisher providing an overview of the Walker County Jail.

Captain Steve Fisher Discussing the Walker County Jail

Supplementing the presentations was a hands-on tour of the Jail, during which Junior Fellows and participants were able to see the jail up-close and (too) personal.  A few brave individuals, for example, agreed to be locked into the “psych ward,” the so-called “rubber-room” where mentally ill (or drugged up) individuals are incarcerated.  Perhaps most disturbing was the psych-ward toilet, which was just a grated hole in the ground…

Psych-Ward Toilet

…a sight that left some people speechless…

Melva, In the Psych Ward

Kameron Weaver agreed to demonstrate the Jail’s restraining chair…

Kameron Weaver in the Restraining Chair

…which Betty Dunlap also agreed to…

Former SHSU Professor Betty Dunlap in the Restraining Chair

Officer Fisher did a great job in explaining the works of the facility and providing us with the vision for the new County Jail.

Following the tour, participants heard about a related topic: intergovernmental relations.  The jail, which is used by both the County and the City, is a good example of the need for local government entities to get along.  Without cooperation, taxpayers can be on the books for a County Jail and a City Jail, and the infrastructure and staffing costs that are associated with redundant service provision.

To help illustrate those principles, Commissioners Paulsel and Gaines were on hand along with Mayor Mac Woodward, Council Member Tish Humphrey, and Council Member Keith Olson.

Council Members, Commissioners, the Mayor, and the Sheriff

They discussed the importance of intergovernmental cooperation, provided examples of their cooperation, and answered questions from participants.

Following the Q&A, the participants enjoyed their dinner and had the chance of having one on one conversation with our guest speakers and each other.  In fact, one of the best aspects of County U is the program’s tendency to bring together different elements of the community…

Dolores Moreno and Tony Itzep

…and introduce them to new perspectives…

Sheriff McRae and Melva Gomez

..and suggest new possibilities for cooperation…

The Leonhardts and Morrisseys

Note: The Junior Fellows would like to thank Sheriff McRae, Lieutnant Perkins, Captain Fisher, Captain Whitecotton, Commissioner Gaines, Commissioner Paulsel, Mayor Mac Woodward, Council Member Tish Humphrey, and Council Member Keith Olson for participating in this event.

Council Members Humphrey and Olson; Commissioners Paulsel and Gaines; and Mayor Mac Woodward

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