Al Cannon may have misfired while discussing the situation at the jail that bears his name.
At a press conference Thursday, he said he wished Monsignor Ed Lofton had come to him instead of Chief Deputy Mitch Lucas about the disagreement over Lofton bringing wine to the jail to celebrate Holy Communion.
So, he wanted Lofton to go over Lucas’ head? Sure, that would have really helped their relationship (not that it’s spectacular right now as it is).
And Cannon also said he was upset that Post and Courier reporter Andrew Knapp didn’t contact him about the issue as well.
So there you have it, it’s the media’s fault that Lofton got kicked out of the jail.
Glad we got that settled.
You can understand why the sheriff is maybe not in the greatest mood. As Glenn Smith detailed in his story over the weekend, Cannon’s not having the best year ever. Some of that is from circumstances largely beyond his control. He obviously wants to find out who killed Allison Griffor as much as everyone else, and his personal commitment to that case and to the case of Gayle McCaffrey is unquestionable.
Unfortunately, some of the difficulties are of his own making. Slapping a handcuffed suspect is never a good idea, no matter what building bears your name.
And now this dustup over a longtime volunteer chaplain being banned from the jail. If there’s anything inmates need, it’s probably more time with people like Lofton, not less.
“A misunderstanding on both sides” is how Cannon described the situation Thursday. Though on one hand he called the wine a non-issue, in the same breath he said Lofton is still banned from the jail.
Of course, the whole thing never should have happened. The S.C. Department of Corrections allows priests or bishops to bring wine to be used as part of the celebration of Communion, the foundation of Catholic faith. The priest is the only one who consumes wine during Communion in any case, so the idea that he would be giving the wine to the inmates is a non-starter.
The ban on alcohol as a “dangerous combustible” is grounded in common sense, but it seems an exception could be made for an ounce of wine — in a Transportation Security Administration-approved container, no less — so a priest can celebrate Mass.
Of all the well-publicized items moving in and out of that jail, sacramental wine could hardly be the top security threat.
Heck, it can’t even be the top security threat among the rest of the items the state prison policy allows a priest to bring in. What about a chalice? Oh, wait, the chalice was banned too.
Often, the person at the top doesn’t want to have anything to do with newspaper inquiries and lets a public information officer or spokesperson handle those. But Cannon apparently thought someone at the paper should talk to him, even though Knapp contacted both Lucas and sheriff’s spokesman Maj. James Brady, one of whom you’d think would have told Cannon about the dust-up.
Maybe he needs to seek salvation, or forgiveness, elsewhere.
Reach Digital Editor Melanie Balog at email@example.com.