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Lake County Sheriff Mark C. Curran Jr. sentenced himself today to a week in his own jail, saying he believes spending time behind bars will make him a better cop and a better person. “I believe that I can be a better sheriff by having a better understanding of jail operations from the perspective of an inmate in the Lake County Jail,” Curran said before being locked up. “I believe that I will receive significant introspection from staying in the jail with inmates for a week.”

Curran plans to live in a cell, eat jail food, mingle and talk with other inmates in common areas, while also attending numerous programs offered in the facility, including substance abuse counseling, parenting and educational classes, along with religious services. That immersion, he said, should give him more insight into everything from safety issues to what programs may be needed help inmates straighten out their lives and avoid future crimes.

“My experience in the jail will help me to better understand our existing programming, as well as any possible unmet needs that exist in our programming,’’ said Curran, a 45-year-old former prosecutor elected sheriff in 2006.

But Curran, a Roman Catholic, also frequently cited a spiritual desire to understand what inmates are going through and how their lives may be turned around. “In Lake County, we have embraced the scriptural mandate to love our neighbor. Your neighbor must be everyone if we are truly going to see peace on Earth,” he said. “In the eyes of society, I may be sheriff, but in God’s eyes, I am no better than anyone else.”