“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities.” — Abraham Lincoln
A visit yesterday to the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville, Connecticut, has me thinking about time and freedom. I’d been to the prison facility before, as a local newspaper reporter writing about how the incarcerated think differently from one another — and from those of us on the outside — about those notions.
During my visit inside, I asked one inmate how much time remained on his sentence.
“It’s irrelevant,” he told me, matter-of-factly.
The guy is serving hundreds of years for murdering an entire family and their dog.
For inmates who’ll someday be released from prison, time is the only relevant measure, just as it is for two recently rescued horses with whom I visited yesterday.
Both animals were seized by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture having been victims of abuse and neglect. Today, they make their home on the grounds of the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center, where they’re available for adoption through the Department of Agriculture.
The horses enjoy the run of a paddock and the protection of a 19th century barn that is original to the property, which was once home to a dairy farm. With assistance and materials from area businesses, the barn was restored by corrections officers and inmates who care for the horses under the guidance and with the support of the Department of Agriculture.
All indications are that the horses — Rebel, a 20-year-old male who’s missing many of his teeth, and Venus, a 10-year-old female with a bad knee — are living lives of leisure, which they richly deserve having endured mistreatment at the hands of callous if not sadistic human “owners.”
I put the word “owners” in quotation marks to point out that not all of us agree that man is entitled to hold dominion over other species. I share my home and property with two dogs and a cat, all of whom were adopted through the Connecticut Humane Society. They are not property. They are companions for whom I do “whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves,” to borrow Mr. Lincoln’s words.
Many of us wish that humans would reach a point when local, state, and government officials and their constituencies agree that Mr. Lincoln’s ideal should apply not just to “a community of people” but to all species.
Unfortunately, that ideal is not championed by bureaucrats and especially interested captains of industry who’ve evolved at a regrettably pedestrian rate.
That is to say that a local, state, or federal government agency is often less willing and able than a particular “community of people” to serve the needs of species that “cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves.”
The equine rescue and rehabilitation facility on the grounds of the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center, which was created and is operated by the Connecticut departments of corrections and agriculture, may very well be an exception to that trend.
The horses who now call the facility home have been given their due freedom from callous if not sadistic “owners” and the time to enjoy it.