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For some, jail was once a sort of home

The view of the neighborhood from the old Middlesex County courthouse building in East Cambridge.

Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

The view of the neighborhood from the old Middlesex County courthouse building in East Cambridge.

HAVING WORKED in the Middlesex County jail in the 1980s, I was struck by Casey Ross’s story on plans to turn the jail into a residential building (“New look planned for Cambridge courthouse,” April 11).

On occasion, I would hear staff referring to “frequent flyers” — inmates who, after being released, would be “home long enough to change their clothes.” From the jail, which occupied the top four floors of the building, some could quite literally see the homes where they spent their childhood.

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The possibility that the jail could become a real home somewhat mitigates the sad irony that, at one time, the jail and its staff were the most stable elements in the chaotic lives of some “boys from the parish.”

Jim Cain

North Andover

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