I'm not sure which emotional button to push – the one that makes me happy to see concerned citizens actually protesting for something that needs to (and can be) changed, or the one involving the Times-Dispatch's comments section that makes me want to drive across the Huguenot Bridge in a really large truck.
I'm referring, of course, to the brief news story about a group of residents protesting the summertime conditions in the Richmond City Jail, and to the inane comments it generated:
Mo Karn, 23, one of the organizers, who said she is a member of a South Richmond collective, said the protest was spurred by the death of two Richmond Jail inmates last month. One of the inmates, Grant R. Sleeper, was determined to have died from environmental heat exposure...Karn said that city leaders have shown a race and class bias against prisoners at the jail.
"With people actually dying, you have to break out of your bureaucratic constraints and do something," she said.
This comes on the heels of a letter to the Department of Justice from the Virginia ACLU requesting an immediate investigation into "punishing" conditions at the jail after two recent deaths.
"We believe that the conditions at the Richmond City Jail pose a persistent threat to the health and safety of inmates, as illustrated by the two recent deaths," [ACLU Executive Director Ken] Willis' letter said. "Periodic proposals to improve or replace the jail have repeatedly come to naught. The situation at the jail requires federal intervention."
Willis says the ACLU of Virginia has received more than 50 complaints from inmates during the past five years. He added that "almost certainly, that is a small portion of inmates who have been adversely affected by the jail."