After Trish Mehaffey’s story earlier this month on how inmates felt the Linn County Jail flood evacuation went awry, I received a packet of letters from Bruce M. Braggs complaining about the treatment of Linn County inmates who are now staying at the Anamosa State Penetentiary. I sort of see one of his many points — why should he and other transferred inmates be denied phone access to call their relatives and let them know where they are? But there is an underlying assumption in his complaints that I can’t quite stomach: That he isn’t a prisoner at Anamosa and shouldn’t be treated like one.

Well, now he is. It depends on where you are being jailed on what amenities you do or don’t receive, how long you get to be out of your cell, what you eat, etc. Honestly, the Linn County Jail is comparable to a college dorm, only all the students wear orange jumpsuits. The inmates there had it pretty good. Heck, they could buy checkers games and underwear, and eat pretty good food! So I can understand why Braggs and others would be a little ticked that they can’t receive their newspapers or watch TV as extensively as they used to, or have access to a law library. He even referred to the living conditions as “torture.” Although, his complaint that Anamosa won’t give them chicken on the bone instead of chicken patties made me question that assertion.

Anamosa is a state penitentiary, a place for mostly serious criminals. The rules will be a little different. So I also understand why Linn County Sheriff’s officials maintain the line that Linn County inmates are going to have to follow their rules while they’re there. That includes strip searches to and from visits. I can also understand this comment I’ve heard from several sheriff’s deputies: “Maybe seeing what it’s like hanging with the big boys in state prison will help them clean up their act so they don’t end up there, too.”

Just so you know who sent the letter, Braggs is awaiting an Oct. 20 trial for charges of first-degree burglary and second-degree sexual abuse in connection with the rape of a Kirkwood student last year. Since 1996, he has been charged with domestic abuse three times, willful injury once, attempted murder twice and first-degree burglary twice. He wasn’t convicted on any of those charges, records show. In the same amount of time, he has been convicted of controlled substance violation, illegal game/betting, domestic assaults, disorderly conduct and assaults.

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