AFTER READING DAVID Plotz’s article, “Sexist Cells” (The District Line, 10/22), in which 13 female inmates are suing the Department of Corrections (DOC) of the District of Columbia, I couldn’t help but say to myself, “Who really cares?” With all the violence that is occurring in the streets of D.C. these days, do we really have the time to worry about the problems of inmates? For some reason, I cannot find an ounce of compassion in my heart for these people.
These 13 “Jane Doe” plaintiffs are suing the DOC for inadequate care and for equal education and vocation programs. Why should the already overburdened taxpayers of the District of Columbia have to pay for this? The plaintiffs complain that there is a Catch-22: Male inmates are offered the opportunity to take college-level courses through the University of the District of Columbia and are offered vocational programs to earn “good time credits” (whatever they are). The males are also given the opportunity to earn money doing work outside the prison, while the women are trained in skills such as sewing and typing.
If they are criminals, I believe they should be treated as such. There is a large gap between punishment and pampering. In my opinion, the male inmates are being pampered. I believe male and female inmates should have equal rights. The male inmates should not be given the opportunity to take college-level courses. They should be taking the typing classes as with the women. They shouldn’t be given the opportunity to earn money—what could they possibly spend it on if they are behind bars? Good time credits should also be taken away. Anything with “good” in the name should not be associated with prison.
The money that will be saved by cutting these programs can be put toward more useful programs for the prevention of crime. For instance: a large police force to deter crimes before they take place; youth centers that give kids the opportunity to do something productive rather than destructive; new job programs. The District of Columbia is literally falling apart. There is plenty of work to be done.
Falls Church, Va.