Under a ride-along-style program, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department is offering the public tours of its jail, says the Sacramento Bee. People can peek at the cell where Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski was held during his trial or come face-to-face with the controversial jail restraint chair that has sparked lawsuits against the department. Sheriff John McGinness hopes the tours increase understanding of the jail’s inner workings – how deputies book suspects and supervise inmates in the recreation area, kitchen, and laundromat.
The department’s handling of inmates came under intense scrutiny after articles in the Bee detailed claims of excessive use of force at the facility. McGinness said he wants to change perceptions that the jail operates under a cloak of secrecy. He also wants to “dispel the myth that it’s a hellhole.” McGinness said tours also can attract those interested in law enforcement careers. County Inspector General Lee Dean, whose office serves as independent oversight for the sheriff, supports the new program. “It’s precisely the kind of thing needed to build transparency and safeguard the public trust,” Dean said.