Christmas in the clink
While Christmas seems to be everywhere with bright twinkling lights, Santa Claus, big sales and Salvation Army bell ringers at the supermarket entrances, it’s hard to believe there is a place where Christmas will pass without ceremony.”In jail, Christmas just comes and goes,” said Garfield County jail commander Scott Dawson. “It’s just like any other day.”The only nod Garfield County makes to the holiday for jail inmates is a more elaborate and leisurely meal. There are no decorations, no white elephant gifts, no celebrations or special church services.”We have to maintain security and a sense of professionalism,” Dawson said.Most of the inmates at the Garfield County Jail will stay at the facility between three and five months while they wait for their trials to start. Some might serve sentences as long as two years. But it’s not like prison, Dawson said.The inmates always have access to religious and spiritual advisors and there are several pastors who visit the jail frequently. They will be available if the inmates want to meet with them this Sunday just as they are any other day of any other week.The holidays tend to be a time for family. But there are no extended visitation hours for the special occasion. In fact, there are no visiting hours on Christmas at all. Visitors are only allowed from 6:30-9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.Dawson said he’s worked at the jail for 11 years and has never noticed that inmates complain more about being in jail during the holidays, nor do they act up or cause problems. Aside from the special meals, Dec. 25 could just as easily pass as June 25.Inmates typically get a cold breakfast at 5:30 a.m., said Mina Diaz, a cook at the jail. This Sunday they will have eggs, sausage, hash browns and toast at 8:30. “Then they’ll have a vegetable plate for lunch because it’s so close to breakfast,” Diaz said.Lunch is at 11:30 and the real feast starts at 3:30 p.m. – ham, mashed potatoes, rolls with butter and sweet potatoes. At 7 p.m., the inmates will get apple pie for desert.”They get really excited,” Diaz said about the inmates. “It’s really nice for them and they always send us letters to thank us for making them the nice dinner.”
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