Vanessa Minarik 0

Demand Change for the Benton County Jail

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Vanessa Minarik 0 Comments
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I am petitioning you as a concerned citizen and registered voter of the Benton County area.


I have multiple concerns over the chosen course of running the Benton County Jail. I am not alone in my concerns. Recently President Obama has issued reviews of several criminal housing units and has pushed for the closing of several of those. The president has spoken out against what has been called inhumane treatment of inmates yet in our own county some of those very same procedures are being used daily.


Our prisoners are given bare minimum to eat, of those meals none are actually cooked and while the staff claims the food may meet the legal requirements to sustain life I challenge the validity of that claim. The lack of nutritious food causes more medical conditions each year which the taxpayers must shoulder. Part of this petition is to bring back balanced hot meals to the inmates of Benton County Jail. The inmates are still being fed slop that I wouldn’t feed my dog, they are having their mail restricted, not being allowed proper medical attention when it’s needed, kept in states of exhaustion, being mentally abused and sometimes physically abused by the jailers in the facility. When will this change?


The jail is kept at a temperature that keeps the inmates in a cold climate, year round which encourages lethargy and minimal movement and energy. I understand that while this seems to be wise with criminals it is extremely unhealthy causing colds and other health issues for those who suffer with arthritis and other forms of medical conditions. In the long run it could cause more medical problems leading to more cost in inmate medical care for the citizens of Benton County to shoulder. We are asking that the temperature of the jail be kept at a reasonable temperature for the season of the year. The inmates are kept at the bare basics of clothing of that is thread bare, sandals and nothing that keeps them warm. The one blanket they are afforded to sleep with is of poor quality and would be better suited to keep a dog warm then a human body. Help us change how we run this jail.


The lights in the jail are kept on in the cells twenty four hours a day, this is sleep deprivation. It is considered inhumane. Forcing inmates to sleep with the lights on allowing for no nocturnal cycles is wrong. It causes mental health issues yet we as citizens allow this to continue. The vote is coming and I'm calling for change here. Inmates are still human, they still have rights and being treated like an animal shouldn't be the normal pattern. The inmates are kept in a state of hunger and exhaustion, dealing with cruelties from the jailers. There have been countless lawsuits over the years yet none of this changes.


The inmates are denied religious freedom and are forced Christianity. The law states there must be a separation between church and state yet to walk into the facility you pass under a sign reading "In God We Trust" That isn't separation. There are inmates who do not follow the Christian path who are not allowed Clergy, reading material, worship in any form or guidance in accordance with their faith. The law states it is a right to freedom of religion yet those in the facility are denied that. It's time for the citizens to change that.



They are not allowed the basic dignity of showering without an opposite sex jailer observing. This is a new development with the overcrowding of the jails female jails are set to watch over male inmates. This is not only dangerous but illegal according to our state laws that define same sex jailers. The inmates are still human, they still have rights.


Their mail is restricted, recently mail is being returned if it is not on plain white paper and written in black ink. Children are not allowed to draw for their fathers and mothers who are incarcerated. Letters are restricted for the most unreasonable of reasons, none of which are sound practices. This is a form of isolation the jail practices to keep it's inmates in line.


Visitation with family and friends is restricted beyond that of policy. The policy states they may have as many schedulable visitations a day with each visitor being allowed to visit only once per day according to the inmates hand book (pg 32/33) and yet the jail only allows two scheduled visits per week per inmate. Each visit is 15 minutes which is once again out of accordance of the 30 minute visitation policy. This needs to change.

If our law keepers are in the process becoming law breakers who do we trust to keep the law?


Outside of those walls are voters, and believe me when I state to you that many have been inmates in those walls and they outnumber those who haven’t spent time in the facility. While one voice changes nothing hundreds of voters can and will. We can find another Sheriff who will actually make some changes. It's time for us to use that voice and start demanding some change in our own back yard.


It starts with us.


Vanessa Minarik


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