Tag Archives: Randy Sanders

Columbia County Jail Loses Lawsuit

A lawsuit levied against the Columbia County jail has awarded $15,000 to the Prison Legal News (PLN), a free publication that proclaims on its website that it is “protecting human rights.” These are the rights of convicted and alleged criminals who are incarcerated in county jails.  On their website, PLN advertises discounted telephone calls while in jail; books titled “Sue the Doctor and Win“ and “authentic videos shot in American prisons” where one video depicts inmates in Lowndes County, Georgia attacking a guard, taking his keys and escaping from jail. They go on to steal a vehicle.

Due to the shrinking budget at the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, there aren’t enough guards to monitor the mail that comes into the jail and therefore the sheriff made a decision to go with a post card policy. Contraband is easy to hide in mail, such as envelopes and magazines. As you can imagine, criminals can be very creative when sending methamphetamine – a tiny amount of powder – buried in the mail, for instance. The jail requires a minimum of four guards on duty at all times, and they are currently at that level. This makes it impossible to pull a guard off the line to go through incoming mail to look for contraband. Read More

An Opinion: How Do We Solve the Jail Issue?

Columbia County’s current jail problem is both controversial and profound. There are those who seemingly aren’t able to afford the tax needed to support the levy, I get that, these are tough times. But unless you are weak on crime and/or have a soft spot for criminals, then you too agree we absolutely need a functioning jail like any other legitimate community. If communities didn’t need to incarcerate their criminals, we would see prisoners being released, jails and prisons all over America shutting down daily to  save money.  

I tend to look at issues like these pragmatically and without emotion.

First, we must block out the name callers and screamers  who spend their days parading around from meeting to meeting aroused by the sound of their own voice. You know who I mean. They make no articulate points, they bring no solutions to the table. This is exactly what is making politics dysfunctional and folks sick of the whole process.

Secondly, let’s include all folks — for or against the levy — who are willing to come forward and help to solve the problem in a civil tone. Conservative, moderate or liberal folks are welcomed to have a seat at the table, as long as they understand the debate will remain respectful. In order to have your ideas considered, you must listen to others.

Thirdly, linking this issue to the past, is irrelevant and does not solve  this problem.  If we miss this one, it will drive up our home owners insurance, car insurance, endanger our children, allow drunk drivers to own the streets, and more. If you cast this warning off as a “scare tactic,” then you aren’t paying attention. I am a very open-minded person and I will certainly entertain all concepts that arrive at the solution; as long as we do create a solution.

Calling people names is the mark of a weak mind who cannot articulate themselves effectively. Once the frontal cortex begins to process information, it is quickly overloaded and like a garbage disposal that isn’t functioning properly, it spews out a continuous flow of putrid, lurid sewage.

Making articulate points and arriving at solutions takes skill, but that’s what this country was built on. Small, rural communities of the pioneer-past had many significant problems, but they put their minds together to find those pertinent solutions. Sure, they also had the to deal with those who had nothing constructive to contribute and festered on the excitement of seeing their names in print and hearing their opinions over others, but they were quickly cast aside and concentrated on those who were serious problem solvers. This is what we must do now.

Even if you are against the current form of funding, that’s fine, your opinion is respected. If you don’t  care for the levy, but  express your concerns respectfully, that  is good because that is where we start to negotiate. These other noise-makers and name-callers are of no help to the process.

ALL smart and responsible people certainly agree we need a jail — unless you are soft on crime and you want to reward criminals — so let’s only focus on the constructive thinkers.


Randy Sanders is a photographer and blogger.  He occasionally writes for Vernonia’s Voice and can be reached by email:  Randy.Sanders@Live.com.

Voices From the Crowd: Columbia County at a Crossroads

There was a time in America when partisan politics had limits. Republican President Ronald Reagan lay motionless in his hospital bed after losing half the blood in his body from an assassination attempt that had pierced his lung, leaving the bullet lodged an inch from his heart. The first person the President received was Speaker of the House Tip O’Niell; a Democrat and staunch liberal. Taking the President’s withered hand, O’Neill knelt at the bedside and recited the twenty-third Pslam, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” as the President whispered the words along with him. Once finished, the Speaker kissed the President on his forehead and left the room; tears welling up in the big man’s eyes. It’s sad to admit this, but it’s unlikely such an encounter would happen today.

Columbia County is at the crossroads of an issue swept under the rug for almost a decade; public safety. This is an issue that should unite both sides of our partisan divide. Voters have repeatedly denied the funding necessary to operate a safe and effective sheriff’s office, including the jail. Each time the levy has failed, no one who voted against it has stepped forward to provide solutions. I respect those arguments claiming money is already in the county coffers to pay for the jail; however, you must explain “where” and “how.”

We all knew this preverbal can was being kicked down the road; now it’s reached the dead end. Our jail will close by early summer. What exacerbates the problem are the employees who currently work there, leaving, to seek stable employment. Having to refill those positions by removing patrol officers from the road makes us less safe and creates more issues.  Read More

An Opinion: No Support for Sheriff…Again

Another Columbia County public safety levy has failed, this time with a lowly 39% voter turnout. “Get a gun,” is the answer that echoes from the very bottom of the intellect barrel. This is nothing more than a short-sighted remedy, mostly from angry Face Book trolls who waste hours of their lives posting tough-talk rhetoric with gun graphics depicting these grand scenarios of just exactly what could happen if thieves dared enter their home.

Frankly, this is a tired, ill-witted response based on pure ignorance. I own a gun — actually a few of them — and yet this still doesn’t make me a crime fighter or you either. If owning a gun is a substitute for a competent sheriff’s department, then owning a garden hose is a substitute for the local fire department. It’s no secret that criminals who break into homes also have guns that are just as powerful as the gun the home owner carries.  Perhaps at that point, it just might not be a bad idea to have a few of those deputies they insist on not supporting, respond to their calls while they attempt to defend themselves?  Read More