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County known for dirty water, kids born in jail

October 21, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

A recent headline in the paper read "Official says bacteria is in 40 percent of county wells."

Here we go again with the media bias and negativity, always being "anti" when they have a choice to be "pro."

I looked at this as great news. My headline would have been "More than half of county wells are contamination- free!" Maybe I just look on the bright side more than most people, but I see this as a great promotional edge for all those tourists and businesses we always are trying to attract.

Just think, how many more people would make their travel plans here if they knew that our water was 20 percent cleaner than that of Mexico? "Washington County, Md., Come for the Civil War, Stay for the Hepatitis."


The County Commissioners, however, were not so optimistic. Never before have they demonstrated such speed and urgency in committing an issue to "further study."

The health department, meanwhile, believes new wells should be treated with water softeners, ultraviolet lighting and filtration systems.

Around here, I'm not sure how that is going to go. We didn't even want fluoride. Anything "ultraviolet" must be a government plot.

And speaking of government plots, what's all this I see about the county jailing all its pregnant women?

Not to say the idea doesn't have its intriguing aspects ("You've extorted pickles from me for the last time, woman"), but the issue was brought to light last week when a female inmate gave birth in the Washington County Detention Center.

Then the sheriff mentioned in passing that there were a half-dozen other pregnant women in jail, too. In fact, there's a "special unit" for pregnant women in the county slammer. Done up in pink and blue, I suppose. Fitting, since the first place we put a newborn baby is in a crib, i.e., behind bars, so what's the difference? "Oh. When you said your baby was in the pen, I assumed ..." What do they paint on the cellblocks, A, B, C?

Hard to picture the Division of Corrections needing a maternity ward. Who does she go to for checkups, the DOCBGYN? Too bad the baby didn't escape, it would have made a great film: Steve McQueen in "Papooseillion."

Sheriff Charles Mades said it is his general policy to avoid women giving birth in jail.

Sounds like a plan.

But somehow this time, a woman was relegated to undergoing the blessed event behind the slammin' doors, which makes me pretty sure that she must be a member of the same HMO I belong to.

She named the child Trevor Dre, which may not be a solid move. Kid is: 1.) Born in prison. 2.) named after a rapper. Trevor Dre, I kind of like it.

Anyway, the woman is in jail for violating probation after being convicted of a single count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

If anything, this ought to make Rush Limbaugh nervous. If our court system is showing no mercy to ladies with child and throwing them in the calaboose, what chance does he have? All I can say is Rush better hope he's not pregnant.

The court did try to show mercy, it should be said. The woman was sent to a prenatal treatment center, but she checked out, thus violating a rule of her probation. So maybe the woman and unborn child were better off by being forced off the streets? If I were the kid and I had a vote, I might say "No offense, mums, but let's just be sure you're away from the drug scene until we have independent bloodstreams." After all, she's in for six months, but he's in for nine.

Still, jail just seems so severe. I mean, what would Wyatt Earp have said if you told him he had to stop chasing outlaws and gunslingers and instead had to round up Kitty for getting into the sagebrush again? Isn't there some third option we're not thinking of?

I'm pulling with all my heart for mom and Trevor Dre and all who find themselves in the same boat. No matter what the odds, may they be reunited, find love and happiness in each other and go on to greatness. That thought makes me so warm and fuzzy, I'm tempted to donate a rattle to the county jail.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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