Greeson: Want to be more comfortable in jail? Don't go to jail.

Greeson: Want to be more comfortable in jail? Don't go to jail.

January 24th, 2019 by Jay Greeson in Opinion Columns

There's lots of chatter around these parts about the folks who wear badges.

Certainly, it's not the best time for the leadership of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department or the Chattanooga Police Department.

There are issues that need to be addressed.

But amid the DA investigations and the video evidence and the paper trails that make the 99.4 percent of great officers shake their heads and feel the backlash of public doubt, we need to make sure all of the inquiries remain pointed in the right direction.

Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

With that, news that two of the five people arrested during last weekend's Women's March must not derail or be lumped into the serious conversations of police relations.

According to Times Free Press reporter Rosana Hughes, two transgender women were among the handful arrested, and the duo complained about their treatment at the county jail. One transgender person was not placed in the cells designated for men or the cells designated for women. The person was placed in a side room away from other prisoners, and that apparently was biased.

Yes, getting what the rest of us might consider preferential treatment now is unfair. OK.

There are a large number us who don't know which bathroom would be acceptable to transgender individuals, so it's a little hard to blame a sheriff's deputy for trying to err on the side of kindness. And legal deniability. (Yes, we're betting that Jim Hammond and his staff are working right now on a hard-and-fast policy, but if random Deputy Fife put a transgender person in the wrong cell and something happened one way or another, the civil attorneys looking to cash in would be lined up from the jail to the Olgiati Bridge.)

Considering we are dealing with a person who was identified both as Maddie Boyd-Nix and William Nix in the news story, do you really think if the good folks at the sheriff's department had put Nix with the men or the women that Nix would not have had an issue with being in what could easily have been the right or wrong cell, depending on interpretation?

Are we truly to believe that sitting alone in a "an open seated area, similar to a waiting room, that is located in a secure area within the jail next to the booking and fingerprinting area," as HCSO spokesman Matt Lea described it, is cruel or harsh compared to going into the general population?

Please.

Here's Nix's quote: "There [were] other prisoners, both on the male and the female side, just walking around and wondering about me because I was more or less getting 'special privilege' by not being put in a jail cell. It singles people out, and it makes the other prisoners think 'What is wrong with this person?'"

No, that kind of treatment does not make other prisoners in cells wonder, "What's wrong wth this person?" If I had to guess, it makes them think, "Dang, that person sure got a break!"

Nix of course went on to say the entire ordeal made her feel uncomfortable, which seems strange since the sheriff's office went beyond expectations in an attempt to make Nix as comfortable as possible for someone who has been arrested.

(Side note, and I pray this never happens: But if something ever happens that I need to go to the Hamilton County Jail, can I reserve that waiting room? I'd really appreciate it.)

Here's the general question that comes to mind: Those folks broke the law. They are entitled to certain protections under the Constitution, and I believe in my soul that 99-plus percent of the folks enforcing our laws live and die by those protections.

But, as my Nanny would always remind me, there's no way to get in trouble after 2 a.m. if you are home by midnight.

So, if you are worried about the puzzling paths to proper housing in the jail, here's a noble idea: Don't get arrested.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and 423-757-6343.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com