Let the clergy in, for God's sake!
RANTS that in these past five stagnant months since Fayette County Commissioners Vince Vicites and Dave Lohr gathered 50 of the areas religious
leaders to help solve Fay's social problems and extended an invitation to the religious leaders to tour the county prison, inmates at the Fayette County
Prison who requested spiritual visits with their clergy, reportedly, have not received them.
Nor has there been a tour of the county's religious leaders -- or even any real ministering going on with the prison chaplain seen only briefly and
sporadically on site, as per staff and inmate reports to Rants&Raves.
Readers here know that the issue of allowing and scheduling clergy visits at the county prison has had its rocky moments over the years.
At that revival meeting that Vicites and Lohr held earlier this year, one Brownsville priest said he had tried to visit the prison in the past, but was not
permitted or scheduled to enter to provide ministry to anyone in need. Another Uniontown minister was once denied, then allowed, then again denied
permission to minister to a specific inmate a few years ago, as well.
One current county prison inmate, however, was scheduled to meet in late April with his spiritual leader for a clergy visit, which he abruptly cancelled, when
he and his minister were not permitted a contact visit to meet privately without the recording of their conversation being made through the prison visitation
phone bank system.
RANTS that the request was not met. With the current prison population the lowest we've seen in quite some time, the county perhaps could have tried
harder to accommodate the request, for the inmate and his clergy to meet in the chapel, or anywhere private, where their voices would not have been
The county has not one leg of credibility to stand on in this matter, since there seems always to be a private space or room, for instance, for inmates to be
walked to, to speak with a counselor once in a blue moon.
While Rants&Raves certainly understands and genuinely respects the county's fear of contraband being smuggled into the prison -- since even, in more
recent times, a lawyer, hooked on drugs himself, was busted for smuggling drugs to his client -- the position to deny contact religious visits for fear of
contraband being smuggled in seems pretty darn silly at this point. It's unfair to deny clergy visits because the county cannot seem to control or stop its
own staff or contractors from smuggling in contraband.
For instance, current inmates know who to go to or where they can get enough loose, lower-priced tobacco delivered in rubber gloves, typically worn by
food service workers, at about a 40-percent mark up price on brand name, high market price for smokes outside the joint.
That is, inmates know where to buy contraband tobacco once funds are deposited into the entrepreneur inmate's personal prison commissary account.
Inmates at the county prison, too, so likewise probably all could find contraband drugs inside if they so wished. After all, a guard and a contracted prison
food service worker were recently taken from the county prison in handcuffs, charged after bringing in bags of pills to inmates.
Does anyone really believe the drug smuggling problem is solved? No.
But it's a pretty safe bet that nobody would find contraband of any kind patting down Father Tim or the ministers of the other two inmates who requested
Let the clergy in already, for God's sake.
20 May 18