Prisoners Look For Their Comfort

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Dec. 4, 1903

Prisoners Look For Their Comfort

Occupants of Webster County Jail Believe in Having an Easy Time.

They Ask For Conveniences

System of Signals by Which They Can Call Sheriff at any Time.

One ring – Cold water.
Two rings – Hot water.
Three rings – Papers, books, etc.
Four rings – Sick call.
Five rings – Emergency call.

Sheriff Olson is now “bell hop” in his (one full line of text is obscured) at the southeast corner of Central avenue and Seventh street, upstairs, in appointment, puts to shame many so called hoselries that demand at least $2 per day (about $48 today).

Modern in every detail; equipped with all the modern conveniences, the best of light and ventilation, and above all, assuring absolute safety for its occupants – probably if the “guests” were asked they would say a little too safe – the establishment presided over by Sheriff Olson is above the standard.

Webster county prisoners have their own opinions as to their rights and they are by no means backward in making expression of the same. While not exactly basing their theories on the belief that the world owes them a living, the occupants of the top floor of the court house maintain that while they are the enforced guests of the county, the aforesaid county shall provide for their comfort. The new jail is one of the best in the state and is modern in every detail, but its occupants have discovered some shortcomings. At the recent meeting of the board of supervisors they petitioned that body to install a system of signals in the jail by which the prisoners may make known their wants to the sheriff, whose residence is on the same floor, but situation on the east side of the building, and practically out of hearing from the jail, which occupies the west side of the building.

The petition was granted and now the sheriff’s residence and the jail are connected in the same manner as are the rooms of a hotel with the clerk’s desk on the main floor. There is no other way out of it. The sheriff, who is his own jailer, must respond when he is called. One ring of the electric bell means that some prisoner had decided his convenience would be furthered if he had a little cold water. Two rings means that the water must be hot, and when the bell goes bur-r-r-r three times a little reading matter is desired. Four and five rings are sick call. For ordinary cases the bell is rung four time. Five rings means that something serious is the matter and the attention of the sheriff is desired at once.

This method of ringing the sheriff will probably be found most convenient at times when the prisoners are locked in their cells and are unable to do for themselves. The occupants of the jail find the new system of no little convenience and use it to advantage.

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