At least once a week at The Enterprise, we get a letter from the Yolo County jail. The envelopes are distinctive in that they always come from Tony Diaz Drive in Woodland, they always have an ID number after the sender’s name and they are always written in pencil.
My boss, Debbie Davis, knows I am highly intrigued by the contents of these letters, so she passes them along to me to see what issues, grievances or allegations are being presented. As a devoted student of human nature, these letters do not disappoint.
As you would imagine, missives from county jail are loaded with interesting musings. Many an inmate does not agree with the terms of his sentencing, was not satisfied with his legal representation, believes the living conditions are substandard. When letters offer compelling details, Debbie will assign a reporter to check into the allegations. But most of the correspondences do not offer such details.
Something I’m not proud of is my inclination to feel like a person’s complaints are more valid if the letter is well-written. It’s pathetic that I can be won over by decent prose but, in my mind, it does add a provocative piece to the incomplete puzzle.
One of Debbie’s favorite letters was from an inmate who wrote remorsefully about his escapades that landed him in county jail, but could she please send him a copy of The Enterprise’s article for his scrapbook?
I have a new favorite inmate letter, which deserves to be included here in full, unedited. It is in response to my column about negative comments on our website (“Either you need to change, or I do,” Jan. 29). I am leaving out the writer’s name as it wasn’t clear if this was meant for publication as a letter to the editor.
RE: Negative emails
In a recent article printed in January 2014 about the high amount of emails the paper receives that are in the context of complaining or just negative responses. The question was asked “Why are so many people quick to respond with negativity.”
So why not take the same amount of time or less to say, “What a great story” or to give praise when needed?
Sure, it’s hard to totally agree with every article, but it’s not hard to be open-minded.
I am currently an inmate at the Yolo County Jail and trust me that negativity flows freely around here whenever you want a dose of it.
So I shared the article to a few guys here and asked for their input in regards to the January article. With a collaboration of a few here’s what we got:
Unfortunately in today’s world bad news sells better than good news. Quickly too! Most news channels focus only on bad news and only one world news channel closes faithfully with a positive story every day.
Misery loves company. More in fact, misery NEEDS company. Nobody likes to be in the dark alone. When your in the light, your content and happy and that is sufficient in order to survive.
I’d rather stay in the light and do my time alone rather than the dark looking for people to join my band wagon of negativity. It’s much easier on the soul.
To any and all, your positive responses or words of encouragement are certainly welcome.
The moral of this story is you never know how you might positively affect someone.
— Tanya Perez is an associate editor at The Enterprise. Her column publishes every other Wednesday. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya