San Francisco sheriff Michael
Hennessey launches into his best James Cagney imitation as he
enters County Jail No. 3, the imposing, Depression-era
structure that sits crumbling on a bluff above the hills of
San Bruno. "Warden, we're taking this place over!"
Hennessey growls through the side of his mouth, channeling the
staccato voice of the famous actor in the classic prison-break
film White Heat. "That's what this place feels
like -- an old movie."
The San Bruno jail is one of the
most outdated in the nation, a not-so-quaint reminder of what
prisons were like before correctional facility design became a
science. The sheriff says he worries about the safety and
sanity of both the inmates at No. 3 and the deputies who watch
them. The deafening clamor of the prisoners' incessant
shouting, chants, and banging on metal bars rushes through the
jail as if it were a wind tunnel. The prison's architecture --
long, narrow tiers of cells attached to a central, six-story
hollow rotunda -- makes it impossible for guards to monitor
all activity. Since inmates are sometimes free to roam their
tiers (as mandated by law), idle prisoners have ample
opportunity to cavort with gangs, make weapons, sexually and
physically assault each other, engage in drug use -- even
commit suicide -- without anyone noticing.
Built in 1934, the jail is
woefully low-tech and falling apart. The sheriff likes to
introduce the jail's senior engineer as "the man in
charge of bailing wire and duct tape." Hennessey roams
No. 3 holding a ring of giant skeleton keys, which often get
stuck as he tries to open doors to pass between tiers.
"There's nothing electronic or push-button about the
place," he says. "I'm embarrassed we actually house
people here. It's a real shithole." Walking past one
cell, he notices that deputies have duct-taped a clear plastic
bag over a toilet to collect the back flow of urine and feces.
Hennessey knows the miserable
conditions of No. 3 conspire to create anxiety, low morale,
and a less than rehabilitative environment. "In running
jails, you want order," he says. "Getting the
prisoners to feel calm contributes to that order, which helps
A state-of-the-art prison to be
constructed on the San Bruno grounds is at least three years
away, so Sheriff Hennessey has a plan to improve conditions at
old No. 3 in the meantime: meditation. He is following the
example of another notoriously dilapidated prison, Tihar Jail
in northern India, where chaos ruled among 10,000 hard-core
criminals held in near-medieval conditions -- that is, until
they learned Vipassana. The ancient form of meditation
(pronounced Va-PAH-shana), which requires 10 days of total
silence in isolation, transformed the jail's volatile
atmosphere. Tihar's warden traveled to San Francisco from New
Delhi last year to meet with Hennessey and bear witness to
Vipassana's success. The sheriff was impressed.
"The show of self-control and
discipline at Tihar was intense, and we're talking about
really murderous and horrible criminals -- more so than we
ever see at No. 3," he says. "If Vipassana could do
that in India, then I figured it might help my inmates find a
respite from the horrible conditions they have to live in
here. They, too, could have a break from the chaos. Even if
only in their minds."
While Sheriff Hennessey sees
Vipassana as a promising way to achieve a calmer jail setting,
researchers wonder if it could have a more lasting effect when
inmates are released back into society. The National
Institutes of Health has funded a study to find out whether
Vipassana can help inmates curb their drug and alcohol
addictions and become less inclined to return to a life of
crime. The NIH will begin next month by focusing on a small,
minimum-security facility near Seattle -- the first jail
outside of India to adopt the Vipassana technique. Since that
jail started the Vipassana program three years ago, the
anecdotal evidence of its success has been encouraging. Now
San Francisco's medium-security No. 3 jail will become the
second -- and by far the largest -- in North America to
experiment with Vipassana when it begins teaching inmates
early next year. The sheriff's department plans to do its own
internal study on the technique's effectiveness.
The Inspiration: Vipassana
transformed India's notorious Tihar Jail.
But Vipassana is not a
simple undertaking. Getting prisoners to sit for the rigorous
mind exercise and remain silent for 10 days isn't an easy task.
Nor is diverting enough resources to comply with the program's
strict requirements: quiet housing and meditation space secluded
from the general prison population, vegetarian food service, and
training in Vipassana for enough guards and jail personnel to
administer the course without compromising security protocols.
Still, Hennessey is determined to make it happen -- and he's
certain that Vipassana isn't just something only a liberal
sheriff in a New Age town would dare try.
"We have a tough
jail system, and our prisoners are as tough as anyone else's. If
Vipassana works here, I'd hope other cities would be open to
such innovation, too," he says. "I personally believe
in the value of meditation and self-reflection. If anything, it
goes back to the original concept of prisons as penitentiaries
-- where criminals were put in isolation to contemplate their
actions and show penance for their sins. I don't know what's
magical about the 10 days of Vipassana, but it's not always
important to know why something works, as long as the jail gets
quieter and the inmates become better people."
The art of Vipassana
had been lost in India for 2,000 years when New Delhi's Tihar
Jail was at its brutal worst during the latter half of the 20th
century. Today's teachers of Vipassana claim that Gautama Buddha
discovered the meditation technique in India 500 years before
the birth of Christ. But its practice faded after the seventh
century. As India embraced Hinduism, Buddhism migrated east,
marrying Taoism in China and Shinto in Japan, and landing in its
original form in Burma along the way. It was only there that a
small, devout band of monks kept Buddha's Vipassana alive
through the generations -- until a Burmese businessman,
searching for a cure to his stressful life and the migraines
that came with it, visited the monastery in the 1950s.
As his headaches
disappeared, S. N. Goenka became an ardent believer and
practitioner of Vipassana. He moved to India and devoted his
life to spreading the meditation practice around the world. Now
in his late 70s, Goenka enjoys the same level of reverence from
his students as other iconic spiritual teachers, such as the
boldest attempt to change lives with Vipassana was in Tihar
Jail. The prison is the largest in India and has been considered
one of the most dangerous in the Third World. The accommodations
were abominable: open-air cells in the seasonally frigid
northern climate, stone slab beds, standing pools of water
acting as bath and toilet. The behavior of inmates -- and guards
-- was frightening (as is well documented by human rights
groups). There was blackmail and anarchy, torture and killing.
Drug cartels, gangs, and assaults were rampant. The inmates
ruled themselves in a twisted hierarchy, while the guards played
a hand in many of the atrocities.
When Goenka first
taught Vipassana to prisoners in the 1970s, he worked at various
jails similar to Tihar. At that time, he succeeded only in that
none of his students attacked or killed him. (He insisted that
no shackles or chains be used in his class, though guards stood
by with their guns trained on the meditators.) Unfortunately,
the wardens' ongoing corruption limited the effect of Vipassana
on India's prison system.
Vipassana experiment languished for 20 years, until a
revolutionary new warden arrived at Tihar, her reform plan
backed by the government. Kiran
Bedi, the first woman to join the Indian Police Service,
rose through the ranks with a no-nonsense resolve and received
the Tihar post. Her approach to the mess was to hold the guards
accountable for their actions, and to minimize any corruption
over which she had control. She began to treat the inmates like
human beings -- not caged animals, as earlier wardens had done
-- and quickly earned the prisoners' respect. Then she brought
back Goenka. With each course, Vipassana appeared to transform
the atmosphere of the jail. News reports of the time noted that
instead of fighting, inmates planted flowers on the prison
grounds. By the mid-1990s, Vipassana was major force at Tihar,
being taught to 1,000 inmates at a time.
film, Doing Time Doing Vipassana, chronicled the amazing
developments, showing hardened criminals weeping in the arms of
their teachers -- and even their prison guards -- upon their
exit from 10 days of silent meditation. PBS broadcast the
documentary in the United States. It was also a hit in theaters,
winning the Golden Spire Award at the 1998 San Francisco
International Film Festival. Vipassana followers who made
pilgrimages to India to study under Goenka began setting up
civilian Vipassana retreats in the U.S. -- near Yosemite, in
Texas, the Pacific Northwest, and New England -- teaching the
technique to capacity crowds. One innovative jail -- the North
Rehabilitation Facility near Seattle -- began offering Vipassana
to its inmates. As the craze spread, researchers began to wonder
whether the technique was indeed revolutionary, or just a rehash
of earlier meditation methods.
Alan Marlatt, professor
of psychology and director of the Addictive Behavior Research
Center at the University of Washington, uses meditation in
treating patients. Beyond its relaxing effect, he finds that
meditation's emphasis on focusing the mind can be especially
helpful in keeping addictive tendencies in check. Marlatt
personally tried Transcendental Meditation in the 1970s, when
the technique gained popular Western appeal. In the 1980s he
studied TM's effects on curbing alcohol abuse among college
students, with promising results. Now he is eager to develop
that thesis further with the NIH-funded Vipassana study at the
North Rehabilitation Facility. Since government data shows
prison populations are among the most likely to suffer
addictions, the Seattle-area jail is a good testing ground.
Marlatt has completed his own Vipassana course and believes it
has the potential to be more effective than TM in reducing
addiction relapse and criminal recidivism.
and Vipassana differ most in intensity. While TM usually
involves 20-minute sessions with no set requirements, Vipassana
demands a vow of silence for 10 consecutive days, during which
practitioners meditate for 12 hours a day. After the course,
they are supposed to practice Vipassana for an hour each morning
and evening. TM uses a verbal mantra hummed repeatedly as a
focus aid; in Vipassana, for the first three days the meditators
silently concentrate on breathing, after which all attention
turns to bodily sensations. TM brings a surface relaxation, but
Vipassana is a much deeper journey into the mind, one that those
who've taken the trip say is often tumultuous and draining.
difference between the two techniques is their origin. TM is
steeped in a Hindu tradition, while Vipassana originated with
Buddha. "Both are spiritual disciplines, but Buddhism is
kind of a psychology, while Hinduism has more of a devotional
aspect," Marlatt explains. "In TM, there is no need
for insight; you benefit from good karma that is supposedly
bestowed upon you. But with Vipassana, change comes about by no
accident. You better yourself."
Marlatt and others
believe Vipassana could work for prisoners because it connects
feelings with actions -- and teaches how to feel without
acting. As students of the technique explain, it brings users in
tune with the body, so that they learn to feel, interpret, and,
most importantly, detach from the sensations that signal
undesired behavior. The intense meditation draws even the
slightest bodily sensations to the forefront: muscle twitches,
pricks and tingles of the skin, even subtle rises or drops in
body temperature and blood pressure. Users think about wanting
to drink, smoke, or get angry, then learn the sensations
associated with those urges -- and how to let them pass. As
teachers explain it: If you feel an itch, don't scratch; if your
leg cramps, let the pain wax and wane rather than readjusting
your position. Students observe their discomfort and understand
how it compares to other sensations.
Parks, who is coordinating the NIH study with Marlatt and who
also completed a 10-day course, says he was attracted to
Vipassana because it relies less on the notion of faith -- or
signs from the heavens -- to succeed. "There are more
magical forms of Buddhism in Tibet and elsewhere, but the vein
that Vipassana comes from -- the original version of Buddhism --
is very scientific and empirical. You won't hear Vipassana
teachers like Goenka claim that enlightenment comes from things
like the tail of a comet."
But Vipassana does have
its quirks, including a strict moral code that shuns both sex
outside of a committed relationship and any consumption of
alcohol. During the 10-day meditation periods (and the
month-long sessions that advanced, civilian students take), sex
is forbidden altogether -- as is talking, lying, stealing,
killing (even insects), and intoxication. While inmates aren't
supposed to be having sex or using drugs in prison, it still
happens, just not under Vipassana.
As for integrating the
code into life after the course, Parks says that depends on how
far a meditator wants to take Vipassana. Goenka and his
appointed teachers emphasize Vipassana's practical ability to
help handle addiction or manage anger -- without always
mentioning that they consider the meditation to have a much
grander purpose. "When it comes to spiritual ideas, it is
easy to scare people away," Marlatt says. "So there is
a bit of a Trojan horse here. The practical side of Vipassana is
what you see first. And once you've tried it, you'll want to be
drawn in deeper to the path of enlightenment. You can make
Vipassana your life. And some do."
world peace is not possible. At least that's what the most
ardent followers say, those who have trained under Goenka in
India. They believe the meditation technique is the answer to
all of humankind's ills. Among those listed on the California
Vipassana Meditation Center's Web site: poverty, war,
disease, terrorism, environmental devastation, and the decline
of moral values. The site continues: "Is there a way out of
these seemingly insolvable problems? The answer is
unequivocally, yes. ... Vipassana meditation is such a
Lucia Meijer, the
director of the Seattle-area jail that first tried Vipassana in
the U.S., laughs as she reviews the tall order. "I can't
speak to the global aspirations of Vipassana. I am not a New Age
devotee; I do not run with the wolves," she says. "I'm
just trying to assist one person at a time in this jail with
their addictions, dysfunction, and agony so they can become
law-abiding individuals and not re-offend. Ultimately, I would
hope that means less trouble for the rest of us."
The Sheriff: Michael Hennessey.
facility specializes in rehabilitation (as opposed to
other jails, which focus more on incarceration), she has
tried a number of innovative programs over the years.
"As someone responsible for returning offenders in
a more wholesome state than they went in, you want them
to shape up morally, develop self-discipline, and change
their habitual thinking and behavior patterns," she
says. "Vipassana fits the bill."But that
endorsement comes after three years of inmate
involvement with the meditation. Meijer was skeptical at
first, when a staff member who practiced Vipassana
suggested her jail try it. "There were lots of
concerns," she says. "For one, this comes out
of another culture; people might fear it is a cult. Here
we are isolating people for 10 days -- no one can see
them, [and] they aren't allowed to talk. I can imagine
someone rightfully wondering, "Oh my God, what are
you doing to them?"
No matter how inspiring
the reports of Vipassana's success in Indian jails, Meijer's
eventual enthusiasm was tempered by unavoidable legal, safety,
and logistical matters. "The difference in India is that a
warden has a far more free hand to impose their will. They don't
have the ACLU, labor unions, or the press to contend with,"
she says. "We need to pay careful attention to inmate
rights. No incentives or coercion. No blurring of professional
boundaries. I just cringe when I see that film showing prisoners
falling into the arms of their guards in India. You never, ever
want to see that happen in any American prison."
Intrigued, Meijer took
a Vipassana course herself. "I needed a vacation
anyway," she says. "I figured it would be about
relaxation and rainbows, but there's more to it than just
sitting and meditating. Little did I know how much hard work it
would be. A lot comes up. You're busy peeling away layers and
facing yourself. At the end of the day, you're exhausted."
welcomed the benefits of Vipassana, and persuaded her husband
and two adult children to take courses. She felt confident this
would be a positive experience for her inmates, yet she still
had to field concerns about whether it was an appropriate
program for a public institution. "The people who teach
Vipassana are adamant that it is nonsectarian. But it can be
argued that it looks like a religion," she says.
"Rather than fight about it, for those who insist it is a
religion, I say, "Fine.' The bottom line is that there have
always been lots of religious activities in jails. We have Bible
studies; we observe Ramadan. As long as it is voluntary, we do
our best to support it. No one has to do Vipassana if they don't
Vipassana's spread to
the U.S. isn't as spontaneous as it seems. The technique's
champion, S.N. Goenka, has attempted to build a global Vipassana
movement. So far he has appointed more than 800 teachers, all of
whom have completed lengthy stays in India under his tutelage.
They are charged with growing the practice as they run a network
of 80 volunteer-run Vipassana centers around the world, where
meditation-minded people can learn Buddha's original technique
on a donation basis.
Courses at the
California retreat near Yosemite at North Fork are
always packed. "We think as many people as possible
should take this course. It works," says Harry
Snyder of Marin, a lawyer, consumer advocate, and
Goenka-sanctioned teacher at Yosemite. Snyder stands by
Vipassana's grand claims for improving humankind.
"How can we have world peace if there is no peace
within ourselves?" he asks.
As for the
moral code Vipassana advocates, Snyder says those
lifestyle adjustments begin to make more sense as one
cultivates the meditation. "After a while, you
learn that peace of mind is much more enjoyable than
excitement. In the real world, we are taught to be
excited and we hold that as a great goal," he says.
"Once you experience peacefulness, you realize
there is more happiness in a balanced sense of
feeling." If such a desire for peacefulness could
be transmitted to jail inmates, for example, the
resulting calm could transform a bedlam like No. 3.
Michael Lathrop tries to manage an addiction to crack.
But as Lucia Meijer of
the Seattle-area jail pointed out, some worry that Vipassana is
a cult. Snyder is quick to explain that Goenka is not a god.
Though people respect him for preserving Vipassana, they don't
worship him. "Goenka has great charisma and is a wise
trainer, but he is not Vipassana," Snyder says. "His
students revere him very much, and consider him the person who
helped them change their lives. As long as we have Goenka, we
will ask his insight. But when he's no longer here, Vipassana
will be just as strong."
In addition, Goenka
leads no centralized organization. Each Vipassana retreat is a
separate nonprofit trust run by an unpaid board of directors.
Goenka appoints the teachers, and the teachers control the
boards. A volunteer staff of advanced students of Vipassana
operate the centers, which provide free food and lodging to
meditators. Donations finance everything.
Snyder has been
instrumental in the lobbying efforts to bring Vipassana to U.S.
jails. "Outside the regular population, this is a logical
place where a lot of people are suffering," he says.
"Goenka took it up as a challenge: If this really works,
prove it with hardened criminals."
But Snyder hedges his
bets. "This is not a miracle course," he says.
"You can't cure a lifetime of bad stuff with a 10-day
course. You can learn what's happening inside you that motivates
you to do harmful things. And you can take inspiration from that
to begin the process of change."
Wearing an orange
jumpsuit with the initials "NRF" emblazoned on the
back in tall letters, Michael Lathrop sits cross-legged, eyes
closed, quietly meditating on a blue mat. Half a dozen men in
the same outfit share the floor with Lathrop in the Vipassana
room at the North Rehabilitation Facility near Seattle.
This isn't the first
time the 31-year-old crack cocaine addict has turned to
meditation to calm his urges to get high. Lathrop had tried
Vipassana once before when he discovered it during his fourth
stay at NRF. But after his release, he was back in jail in just
three months -- he'd gone back on crack and began stealing to
support his habit. It was his typical cycle as a chronic
re-offender. Yet Lathrop is convinced that Vipassana works, even
though his initial success was short-lived. Of all the
treatments he has tried over the years, it was the only one that
made him feel in control. If he hadn't let his meditation
schedule slip, he believes, he wouldn't currently be in jail.
Now, he is determined to stick with Vipassana. "It takes me
to a place of serenity. Vipassana is a better rush than
crack," he says. "Well, my body doesn't always think
so. But my mind does now."
Photo - Shane Carpenter
The Warden: Lucia Meijer
|At NRF, all
inmates get orientations in Vipassana, but they don't have
to participate. Lathrop watched the video about Tihar Jail
in India and learned about the background -- and the
rigors -- of the meditation. He volunteered to try it,
intrigued by its Buddhist leanings. But early in the
program he wanted to quit. "It was tough to stay
focused. Sitting there, your mind runs wild. It's scary,
because anything can come up," he says. "You
think of a lot of hurtful, painful memories. It comes in
storms. Things are quiet and then something like lost time
on drugs or my mom's death pops in[to] my head. I get
anxious, my temperature rises, tears well up, and I start
to tremble." After a few days, Lathrop's mind began
to calm. "The initial shock wore off and I mellowed
out. I started to feel inner peace."
Some inmates, such as
Trina Gipson, never make it to that point. Like her, they drop
out because it is uncomfortable both physically and mentally to
attempt such intense meditation. The program also means
sacrificing things regular prisoners enjoy: mail, television,
and eating meat. Gipson, a 36-year-old mother of two,
volunteered for a women's Vipassana course at NRF last month
while serving a drunk driving sentence. She was quickly turned
off by the videotaped messages from Goenka that teachers play at
the end of each meditation session, and was particularly leery
of the way teachers translated Goenka's chants. "I don't
believe that's all he was saying. They just gave us a few lines,
but his chanting went on and on," she complains. "It
confused me and alienated me. I don't understand that language.
What if there were subliminal messages?"
Silence" Vipassana requires also bothered Gipson. She
wasn't supposed to talk to anyone either out loud or in her
thoughts -- not even a higher power. "I pray to God every
day, and I don't believe anything is more important than having
contact with the one who created me," says the lifelong
Baptist. "The whole thing felt wrong and too controlling.
My friend told me to be careful they don't brainwash you."
Such fears are usually
calmed by jail staff. In the Seattle-area jail -- as will be
true in San Francisco's -- the program requires that a certain
number of administrators and security personnel take the course
so they can better relate to the prisoners' experience.
"When you are just herding inmates into the gym to play
basketball, you don't need to understand the game. You just need
to make sure no one fights," NRF director Lucia Meijer
says. "But Vipassana requires a deeper level of
understanding. And if it's going to work, the staff has to want
to do it, buy into it, and care about it."
Just as the inmates
have mixed feelings about the meditation, so do jail staffers.
San Francisco has had trouble finding enough deputies willing to
take a course to begin its Vipassana program. "I had to put
out calls and explain it better each time to get people
interested," Sheriff Hennessey says. "People in law
enforcement are very conservative, even in San Francisco."
While 12 members of the sheriff's staff agreed to try Vipassana,
only six have successfully completed the course so far. One
person quit on religious grounds, Hennessey says, while another
who was going through a divorce at the time found the emotions
evoked by the meditation too much to bear. As for Hennessey, he
hasn't taken the course yet -- and he doesn't know when he will.
It is difficult for him to take 10 days off, he explains,
especially since he runs the sheriff's department and helps his
wife care for a wheelchair-bound child. Besides, he jokes,
"I'm an avowed meat-eater: steaks and chops."
cowboy-boot-wearing, oversized-belt-buckle-sporting Sheriff
Hennessey stands in great contrast to the waifish, silver-haired
jailer Lucia Meijer in her long, flowing dresses. But the two
administrators share a common correctional philosophy -- and
they respect each other's work. "I was impressed with
Sheriff Hennessey's vision and open-mindedness, combined with a
hard-nosed practicality," Meijer says. "You can't
manage a jail with ideology alone and hope to control an inmate
Hennessey, Meijer, and Kiran Bedi from India's Tihar
Jail met to discuss Vipassana in America's prisons.
"There's always a bit of sizing up when anyone in
our business meets," Hennessey says. "You
wonder, "Are they for real? Are they running a real
jail?' Well I can tell you Ms. Meijer brought a lot of
credibility to that meeting. She really seemed to know
what she was doing. And having Ms. Bedi there was quite
powerful." Still, there was a lot to be hashed out
for Hennessey's sake. As moving as the experiences in
Tihar Jail were, the sheriff didn't consider them to
have much practical value in his shop. "It's easy
to discount what goes on in other cultures when you
think it won't relate to yours," he says.
"That's why it was very important that this had
already been developed in Seattle. They took what
happened in India and translated it."
The Test Case: Vipassana meditation room
at Seattle's North Rehabilitation Facility.
But Meijer's jail
houses only minimum-security offenders; fewer than 300 men and
women live in pre--World War II Navy barracks nestled in the
woods outside Seattle. NRF is hardly as tough as San Bruno's
medium-security No. 3 jail, where most inmates have prior prison
histories and the vast majority serves felony convictions. No. 3
is built to hold 400 prisoners, and when Hennessey visited
earlier this month, 402 packed the roster.
Meijer laid out to
Hennessey all the logistical difficulties she had in
implementing Vipassana, from converting staff offices to bunk
and meditation space, to building showers and teaching the
jail's cook vegetarian fare. "We did it, but I can't say to
all wardens, "Go ahead, it won't hurt,'" she says.
"We had to work hard to make it happen, and the folks in
San Francisco sure don't have the nice, summer camp setting
In targeting San
Francisco, Vipassana teacher Harry Snyder -- who arranged the
meeting of wardens -- did his homework. Finding any quiet space
in San Bruno's cramped, dilapidated No. 3 jail would be
impossible, so Snyder proposed an unused women's jail that sits
nearby. The dormant jail had been renovated in 1989 to become an
educational center for County Jail No. 7, which was added to the
San Bruno grounds in the same year. By clearing some offices and
classrooms in the learning center -- adding cots and
constructing temporary showers at a nominal taxpayer expense --
Vipassana could become a reality for both jails. (The San Bruno
complex already offers a vegetarian menu, one of the first and
largest in the nation to do so.)
Hennessey listened to
the proposal and gave his OK. For the first course, the sheriff
requested that the minimum-security inmates from No. 7 test the
program; once any kinks are worked out, the more problematic
residents of No. 3 could be included. "I need to start with
a cautious approach," he says.
After more than a year
of planning in San Bruno, the first course has yet to be
offered. But the current timeline has Vipassana orientation
starting by February 2001. "We've made up our minds to do
it," Hennessey says. "We're just working out the
Meijer is confident San
Francisco can set an example of far greater impact than her
little jail. "If there is a way to do Vipassana in a
correctional system as large and complex as the one Sheriff
Hennessey is in charge of, he is the kind of leader who could
make it happen," she says.
Hennessey is more
modest in his aims. As he walks through the bowels of old County
Jail No. 3 with notebook in hand, he stops every few steps to
write down another embarrassing condition -- things that in any
other jail could almost represent cruel and unusual punishment.
"Even though this is a completely despicable place,"
he says, "at least I feel good we are doing the best we can
to make it sane."
By Joel P. Engardio