|Corrections Communications and the Small Town Model|
|By Joe Bouchard|
Nothing ever happens in a small town. Main Street, U.S.A. is pretty much boring. Well, most of the time…
After living in a metropolitan area with a population of over 4 million, coming to a town of less than 2,500 people was a bit of a change for me. I was fascinated by how quickly information travels through the village and in surrounding areas. It seemed that everyone knows everyone else’s business. Even if you are not hiding anything in particular, this can be a bit unnerving.
Before this begins to sound like the grievances of a cynical recluse, I can admit that I see the merits of quickly disseminated knowledge. I am currently living in a great example of this. The following outlines the filling of information gaps in the wake of an escape from the county lock up.
My knowledge of it began when I nearly reached my snowshoeing destination. While driving to the township park, I noticed cars from two different law enforcement agencies in a driveway. Because I did not want to get in the way, I drove further on. I noticed patrol cars from two other law enforcement agencies going towards the house that I had just passed. This was something big.
Very quickly, though I was not connected to any local news source, I learned more. Gaps in the story were filled in. One neighbor surmised that the residence with the heavy law enforcement presence was a house of interest for the fugitive. One of my kids texted me from school and told me of that the campus was under a lock down. At the local restaurant, I learned that another school was locked down. A friend at a third school called me and told me that there was strong Emergency Response Team presence in the parking lot.
What happened made me compare some of the ways how tiny communities and correctional facilities are similar. Here are a few thoughts.
Prisons are like small towns in a few respects. Most everyone knows everyone else. There may be long stretches of uneventful times. There is no secret about the identities of the movers and shaker.
Since less goes on in a small town than in population dense areas, there are more overt clues about things out of place. Also, with less to survey, we are more familiar with what is normal and what is not.
Since we are aware, so, too are others. In other words, just like a small town, secrets do not keep long in a correctional facility. We cannot discount that others know what we know.
There are official conversation vines and unofficial ones. Unofficial vines tend to move faster and feature fewer filters. Official vines are typically more cautious and are disseminated in a particular manner.
There can be misinformation. So, we should cautiously consider information until it is confirmed. Let the listener beware.
People are willing to share in order to maintain security. It may be very easy in town and in a facility to quickly unearth new, critical information.
As an update, I am happy to report that the absconder has been placed into custody. What the small community experienced makes me think of the utility of small town communications vines and security in general. Good neighbors are like trusted colleagues. They both look out for you and hope that you will do the same for them.
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