Brad Rogers claims he is compassionate — is this true?
A few months before the death of Nelson Mandela we decided to use one of his most famous quotes as the anchor for our blog. Mr. Mandela as he traveled the word reminded all of us that “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats it children.” It is with this ideal foremost in our thoughts that we have created a detailed examination of the way the Elkhart political elite have charged, convicted and sentenced Blake Layman, Levi Sparks, Anthony Sharp and Jose Quiroz. In this election year we are going to use Mr. Mandela’s sentiment as a way to judge some of the candidates who played a role in the case of The Elkhart 4 and are now asking the voters of Elkhart County for the privilege of being returned to office.
Yesterday Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers announced his intention to seek a second term as Sheriff. The Elkhart Truth in their article announcing the candidacy of Brad Rogers stated that Mr. Rogers believes one of his strong points is his “focus on rehabilitation of inmates in the Elkhart County jail.” In the public statement, announcing his candidacy on Facebook, Mr. Rogers stated, “Elkhart County is growing and needs a sheriff that knows how to lead, has compassion, is a proven leader and is prepared for any disaster . . . as your sheriff, I will serve you.”
But how does Mr. Rogers hold up when viewed through Nelson Mandela’s ideal that the true way to judge a society (and the political elite who run it) is in the way it treats his children? In our opinion not well.
From October 2012 until September 2013 several juveniles, aged 16 and 17, were incarcerated at Elkhart County Jail awaiting their upcoming trials. It is a major concern that juveniles not convicted of any crime at the time were imprisoned in an adult facility (it does not matter that they were charged as adults, given their age they were still children). This happened under the leadership of Mr. Rogers. But it gets worse. For the entire duration of their time at Elkhart County Jail these juveniles were not permitted to have any physical contact with their relatives. No hugs from their parents, pats on their backs from their grandparents or high fives from their younger siblings. Mr. Rogers and his jail banned kids from having any physical contact with their families, the most important people in their lives.
Given all we know about human development, especially in the teenage years, how can Mr. Rogers claim he is compassionate while not allowing children to have physical contact with their loved ones? It is not good enough to claim that it is jail policy. Mr. Rogers has at his disposal the staff, facilities and ability to safely make contact between a child and his parents a reality. This policy is cruel, abusive and fails to address the unique reality of childhood and teenage development. This policy most certainly shows that there is a real lack of compassion and understanding of adolescent development on the part of Mr. Rogers and The Elkhart County Jail.
Mr. Rogers has an obligation to address this issue and give voters an understanding how this policy supports human development and good guardianship over minor children. Mr. Rogers has stated that he approaches his job with compassion and with the goal on the rehabilitation of inmates. He needs to tell us how this policy accomplishes this goal. We don’t think he can because in realty this policy is unnecessary, cruel and damaging.
Even those who support the harsh treatment of offenders understand that one of the goals of the criminal justice system is to reduce crime and prevent offenders from re-offending. Such draconian isolation of the young and often most marginalised offenders is not compassionate and will make it harder to rehabilitate the juvenile because they suffering such oppressive isolation.
Nelson Mandela believed that the soul of a society is in how it treats children. It is evident that the treatment of children by Brad Rogers at the Elkhart County Jail is deplorable and needs to be addressed. Concerned voters need to use the elections of 2014 to demand better from Brad Rogers. He needs to prove that he had compassion and has a real desire to reduce reoffending through his actions, not his rhetoric. If he does not do that he does not deserve the vote of any person who cares about reducing crime and ensuring that all of our young people have the support needed as they mature into adulthood, (even those teenagers who are in jail).