To the Editor,
I have been a resident of Tuolumne County since August of 2007, though not in the conventional sense. I am a life-term prisoner housed at Sierra Conservation Center. Unfortunately, I have been to many prisons in this state; but what has prompted this letter is an anomaly found at SCC.
People comprise community. This community is one I have come to know, in a sense, and admire through reading The Union Democrat. The staff who work at SCC largely represent this local community to the prisoner; it is in them particularly that the anomaly, as I see it, exists.
It has been my experience that the staff at SCC largely treat the prisoners with dignity and respect. From vocational instructors and academic teachers, to correctional officers, sergeants, lieutenants, captains and associate wardens, and to free staff of all stripes, the prisoner is treated like a person; perhaps a person with a number, but not just a number.
While staff are not overly familiar with prisoners — friendships are not forged — the prisoner who may have necessity to interact with staff regularly senses that he has intrinsic value as an individual.
To what is this unordinary humane treatment in a correctional setting attributed one naturally asks?
The answer is Jesus Christ. Many staff are Christian and thus they treat the prisoner with the level of dignity requisite for one who is an image bearer of God.
Moreover, these staff are salt and light to their peers, influencing the way they too treat peers.
So, this community is a gospel-saturated community. This is further tangibly demonstrated by the dedicated volunteers who faithfully come to minister at SCC year after year.
While my stay here has neared its end, one reflection is noteworthy. The basic decent treatment experienced has been a powerful reforming/rehabilitative tool.