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Reinstate jail chaplain

by Dorothy Doyle, Gulfport, FL (Source: Letters to the Editor, St Petersburg Times)

As a member of the Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, a Pinellas County voter, and a psychiatric nurse with experience working in a county jail system, I must protest the removal of the Buddhist chaplain from the Pinellas County Jail. Buddhism is the most peaceful of religions, and Frank Tedesco lives and teaches Buddhist principles.

I don't know what the real reason is for ousting him from the jail, but the excuses given are very weak. Inmates are required to sign medical, legal, or other documents with a pen. If they are given a pen, and it is used under supervision and returned, there is no danger involved.

I understand that books have to be scrutinized by jail staff before being given to inmates so that no contraband (drugs, weapons, etc.) is passed on in books. However, I do not support censoring books because jail staff think the content inappropriate. I do not know how nudity can be considered inappropriate, given the amount of it, and the nearly total lack of privacy, that exists in most jail settings.

In the interest of freedom of a religion (a guiding principle in this society), I sincerely hope that the sheriff and his staff reconsider the decision to prohibit a particular chaplain from the Pinellas County Jail.

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