Of course a sheriff who checks himself into his own jail isn’t really going to experience what the prisoners experience. And in some jails he might not survive. But
Sheriff Mark Curran of Lake County, Illinois
showed more courage, more dedication, and more sense of what it really means to be a leader than we’ve come to expect from jail managers, and he has my admiration for it.
Short of Sheriff Curran’s approach, there are other ways to find out what’s actually going on. Jails have rapid turnover, like hotels. It would be easy for a contractor (couldn’t do it with jail personnel) to collect some information from recent releasees; Hilton has done it for a generation or more.
Corrections management is an astoundingly tough assignment; but that’s a reason to work at it harder, not to throw up your hands. I hope the sheriff had a thorough medical exam. Everyone who goes to jail should be tested for infectious disease on the way in and the way out; otherwise the jails turn into incubators for, e.g., TB.
A large fraction of America’s social problems pass through its jails, and the jails mostly don’t do anything to fix them. With more leaders like Mark Curran, that might change.