Saturday, May 19, 2007

What does compliance mean?

This is just an amazing newspaper article about the Harris County Jail in Texas (Houston).
Last year, after the jail failed to meet state certification standards for the third year in a row, the commission ordered officials to comply with the state-ordered guard-to-inmate ratio of 1-48.

This really doesn't seem like a tough regulation to comply with. If you can't hire enough guards, for whatever reason, you just start releasing people. Every jail, and Harris County is no exception, is full of people whose only crime is that they don't have the cash to make bail. The county has a tremendous level of control over both how many people get locked up and how many sheriff's deputies are assigned to the jail.

But are they expected to comply in order to be considered in compliance? No, of course not.
County officials appealed and, after they announced an aggressive hiring and overtime effort, the jail was ruled to be in compliance with state standards.

They just have to pretend that they intend to comply at some point in the future.

Read the whole article. That's not the only problem.

Maybe if we make English the official language we can pass a low that requires words to actually mean whatever they mean. Probably not though.

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