Despite overcrowding in US prisons, an Illinois jail has booked one man who hasn't committed a single crime — the sheriff. The creative experiment sounds dangerous to me, but Sheriff Mark Curran, who will be behind bars until Aug. 27, thinks spending time in another man's jumpsuit is the best way to understand the inmate experience.
Sheriff Curran sleeps in his own cell for safety reasons, but so far most inmates don't seem to realize he's the sheriff. He hopes to gain the trust of those who do realize his true identity by becoming one of them. During the day he'll take part in a substance-abuse support group, GED courses, and a family-communications class. He also plans on working in the kitchen and eating jail food with his fellow inmates. To see what he wants to get out of the experience,
Curran thinks the experience will help him figure out how to solve the problems he can readily fix, like security concerns. But he also believes the hype surrounding his public incarceration will have positive results on the whole system by raising awareness of chronic issues like overpopulation and the disproportionate amount of prisoners who are mentally ill, undereducated, or repeat offenders. While some may consider this a publicity stunt, I think it shows a commitment to improving the chances of prisoner rehabilitation.