FOR THOSE who care about such matters, here is the list of the nation's 10 best jails, as compiled by three jailbirds, based on their own experiences and those of 100 other inmates they interviewed. None of them, thankfully, are in Maryland:
1. Fairbanks Correctional Center, Fairbanks, Alaska. Capacity: 194. Inmates per cell: dormitory-style bunks and single cells. TV: total cable. Visits: regular contact visits. Meals: varied and plentiful; every Friday night, Alaska king crab, shrimp and scallops are served.
2. Boulder County Jail, Boulder, Colo. Capacity: 311. Inmates per cell: one. TV: VCR and network. Visits: regular contact visits. Meals: skimpy but hot. One of few jails with a smoke-free environment.
3. Oahu Community Correctional Center, Honolulu. Capacity: 708. Inmates per cell: two. TV: total cable. Visits: contact visits. Meals: holiday feast (Kalua pig) prepared. Aerobics classes, continuing education courses and law library.
4. Clark County Detention Center, Las Vegas. Capacity: 1,343. Inmates per cell: one to two. TV: network, nightly videos. Visits: limited contact visits. Meals: small and warm. Unlimited free local phone calls allowed, including placing bets with friends on the outside.
5. Olmsted County Jail, Rochester, Minn. Capacity: 54. Inmates per cell: one. TV: cable. Visits: supervised contact visits almost daily. Meals: tradition of great cooking established by sheriff's wife.
6. Cabell County Jail, Huntington, W. Va. Capacity: 150. Inmates per cell: two to four and dormitory style. TV: basic cable. Visits: contact visits, five nights a week. Meals: occasional pizza and cola. Special diet meals available.
7. Evans County Jail, Claxton, Ga. Capacity: 25. Inmates per cell: two to four. TV: network. Visits: no contact. Meals: delicious, catered from local diner.
8. Crittenden County Jail, Marion, Ky. Capacity: 16. Inmates per cell: two to four. TV: Satellite hookup, no remote control. Visits: no contact. Meals: Include fried chicken and pizza.
9. Linn County Correctional Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Capacity: 155. Inmates per cell: one. TV: Cable available until 10:30 p.m. Visits: no contact. Meals: good but small.
10. Hernando County Jail, Brooksville, Fla. Capacity: 252. Inmates per cell: two to eight. TV: basic cable, video movies on weekend. Visits: contact visits. Meals: hot, above average. Florida orange juice at breakfast.