Hansen: Barb at the Jail

Hansen: Barb at the Jail

By Matthew Hansen February 27, 2013 10:49 am 26 comments

She met me in the jail lobby, the first face I saw after crossing through the metal detectors.

Barb was beaming.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Officer Selina Sanchez, the hard-working librarian at the Douglas County jail.

But that day I also got to know her boss, a woman named Barb Gillan Glaser, who ran the jail’s programs for inmates. Barb insisted on taking me on a tour of the jail. She breezed past sullen prisoners and cruised through security points and chatted me up as we passed men in handcuffs. As you may expect, the Douglas County Jail is a cold place. But Barb practically radiated warmth.

I emailed Barb both before and after the story, to check facts and then to thank her for her hospitality. Her emails were as kind as her smile, and I loved how she signed them: “Barb at the Jail.”

Barb was at the jail. Barb wanted to be at the jail. Any dummy could see that Barb made the jail a better place. The programs she ran taught inmates to read and offered them job training. The library. The legal services. The GEDs. These are Barb’s lasting impact.

They are her legacy, because last week Barb died when her parked car slipped down her snowy driveway and struck her. She was 61 years old. She was the jail’s longest serving employee.

Here’s what she told me when I met her: “If we don’t try to teach them another way to think, we accomplish nothing. Just locking people up accomplishes nothing.”

Here’s what I’ll remember: You can make any corner of this world better if you want to. Barb at the Jail wanted to. And she did.

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