By Teri Vance
Speaking to a group of women community leaders and advocates, Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong asked a rhetorical question: “When was the first time you were a victim?”
He said law enforcement officials are trying to understand women’s experiences are typically different from men’s experiences, and that changes how they interact in a jail.
By the time a woman is arrested, she’s often had a lengthy history of abuse and is wary of men in authority roles.
“That’s what we’re taking into account,” Furlong said. “The female population is not the same as the male population. We’re not even speaking the same language in that jail, and when we don’t speak the same language we tend to do more harm than good.”
Furlong introduced Emily Salisbury, an expert in female interaction with the criminal justice system, as part of a workshop designed to better understand the processes for women in incarceration.
“It doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be held accountable, but maybe there’s a need for training in a trauma-informed care model,” Salisbury explained. “It’s pretty sickening to know how much trauma these women have suffered. It’s absolutely transformed the way we do corrections.
“It’s not just sitting around and singing ‘Kumbaya,’ it’s addressing the problem in an effective way.”
The Carson City Sheriff’s Office, along with Carson City Health and Human Services and Partnership Carson City, sponsored the workshop July 12.