LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Is a new jail really needed?


To the Editor:

The recent stories about the jail situation have been informative, and now allow for us to look at the big picture. With the many significant changes in who is now sent to jail, do we really need the new $40 million jail and all of the new jailors that have been added to the payroll? Spoiler alert: No.

Beginning about the same time that the County Commissioners were deciding to build the new jail, three important changes have been made that greatly reduced the number of inmates.

First: Because a great many of the inmates were being held in jail before their trials were held to determine whether they were guilty, it was decided to allow those who were of no danger to others to reside at home until trial (in addition to freeing up cell space taxpayers did not have to feed them and give them medical attention).

Second: When Covid hit, all police and the sheriff department began issuing a summons to show up to a trial instead of arresting them and sending them to jail to await trial (this applies only to non-violent, non-dangerous persons).

Third: The legislature has just passed a bill that will allow those actually convicted of lesser offenses to be sent to state prison rather than county jails. Note that Legislators were the ones who caused the problem in the first place several years ago, by sending those inmates to county jails instead of state prisons.

So now the new jail and the additional jailors are unnecessary, although to disguise this officials are stating that many of the current community correction spaces won’t be counted, and no mention is made of the many inmates who used to be sent to home detention with bracelets.

It was a mistake to build an unneeded jail and add jailors. Admit it, rather than cover it up.

Warren Hiser