Archive for Saturday, April 7, 2018

Letter to the editor: Benefits of jail expansion

April 7, 2018


To the editor:

I didn’t vote for Sam “What, Me Worry?” Brownback, and unless hell freezes over I won’t be voting for Kris “I Play a Lawyer on TV” Kobach.

But I’m planning on casting a vote in favor of expanding the Douglas County Jail and building the behavioral health campus.

Here’s why: The jail has more inmates than it can safely and efficiently house. One way or another, it’s going to be expanded. We can pay for it now or we can pay for it later. But make no mistake, we’re going to pay for it.

The benefits of the behavioral health campus far outweigh the concerns over whether the jail expansion can be put off for a few years.

Having the two initiatives on an all-or-nothing ballot is awkward. But it doesn’t offset the fact that the jail is overcrowded, and that the behavioral health campus will close many of the gaping holes in our approach to caring for those living with serious mental illnesses.

Our current approach, much affected by the Brownback administration’s budget cuts and its decision to limit access to crisis beds at Osawatomie State Hospital, has shifted this burden of care onto Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where, not too long ago, the emergency room was caring for 11 mental health-crisis patients at the same time because OSH was full.

This is unacceptable.


Kendall Simmons 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Let's see.

Johnson County expanded THEIR jail...and now have 300 empty beds.

If we expand OURS, we will not only be on the hook for paying tens of millions for the jail expansion itself...but also paying over $5 million a year to staff the darned thing.

And, believe it or not, we can stop the county commissioners for building it without our permission. It would cost us $$$, but not anywhere near as much as building the darned thing.

Plus having the new mental health options, WILL...keep people out of jail. I remember sitting in court a few years ago and listening to the judge apologize...yes, the defendant for having to send him to jail for 2 years because there was no mental health option available!!!

We do NOT need a bigger jail. We need more mental health options...and we, the people can demand that that be placed ALONE on a ballot. We can also block the county commissioners, whether they like it or not. Let's enter the 21st century...and VOTE NO!!!

P.S. We got our property tax bill this week. OMG! We paid our house off in December...but will have to still pay almost 50% (!!!) of that former mortgage payment just for property taxes here. This is absurd!!! Thank goodness our sidewalks don't need to be repaired.

Francis Hunt 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Kendall, you better do your homework, you have received bad information if you believe you can stop the county from meeting a statutory obligation. You don't have to look far to see a recent ruling in this newspaper from a judge that says, "Kansas law recognizes that a county maintaining a jail owes a duty of care to the inmates housed there" and "A county owes a duty of reasonable care to inmates because they are not at liberty to meet there own needs and thus must depend on those who hold them." I'm just guessing that inmates sleeping on the floor and violent inmates in the wrong housing probably don't meet that duty of care. By the way the mental health center isn't meant to be a substitute for jail, it isn't going to send people there instead of jail if they have committed a crime. Better do some homework on your own and stop listening to fake news. Have you toured the jail or been to a community presentation? I'm guessing not.

Kendall Simmons 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Actually, the county can decide NOT to spend millions on the jail expansion. It's NOT a "statutory obligation", regardless of your quotes.

And I never said that the mental housing center (and transitional housing, which many people seem to have forgotten) was meant as a "substitute for jail". Although, for example, in the case of the defendant I referred to, it most certainly could have.

My point was that many people in jail could have avoided being sentenced to jail...heck, not even committed a crime...if they could have gotten the help they needed.

P.S. Here's a J-W article from February you might have forgotten:

Sharilyn Wells 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Kendall got her info by working with the mentally ill.

John Gallup 1 month, 2 weeks ago

What about having more people on ankle bracelets and home arrest so they don't lose their job,break up their family or cause them to be homeless which is a drain on our community and cost us 💰 If we build the jail we have to fill the jail and Kendall has a point, our Jail is overcrowded. couldn't we help non-violent offenders with a bette way like probation. So what we're saying is, there's no better way than spending 8 million dollars a year to lock more people up, that's a negative return on every dollar.

Richard Heckler 1 month, 2 weeks ago


BRING back a proposal for a larger mental health facility and I will most likely vote for it.

Osawatimie has been closed so why not create a mental health facility in Douglas county that can help reduce the back log in the state? This creates jobs that are necessary for the long term.

Are hard time jails deterring crime? Instead of jail space let's create job openings.

How about we consider instead of more hard time jail space that does not pay back we organize a Correctional Custody facility that includes Vo-Tech opportunities that which would allow Correctional Custody tenants to leave with a skill under their belt?

Yes I also support more ankle bracelet to keep folks in their homes which could also become part of a vo tech training concept.

Francis Hunt 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Mr. Gallup, I went to a community presentation, they are doing all of the things you suggested. You should take advantage of one of these educational meetings and see everything they are doing to divert people from jail.

Kendall Simmons 1 month, 2 weeks ago

They're not really "educational" meetings. Rather they are designed to convince attendees to vote "Yes" on the jail expansion. Not the same thing.

Chad Steele 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Bunk. Don't buy this threat from the Treanor jail lobby. They planned this to be a midterm, mailed ballot, sales tax, attached to the needed and popular mental health expansion because it would never hope to pass any other way. Vote NO and in only seven months vote off the 1st district County Commission. After the people of Lawrence reject this extortion vote get them out!

Deborah Snyder 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Here's what EVERYBODY is missing: Jail Expansion would NEVER have come up had our District Court System not become so backed up, it literally violated even the state's expanded definition of "speedy trial" of a murder suspect from Eudora.

Judge Kittel, who took up an entire page of the LJW glowering over THE FACT that Douglas County has appointed ONE (1) pro tem judge to the bench of the most backed-up district case load IN THE STATE, and in state history, doesn't excuse, exonerate, justify or change the SOLE REASON that this district has failed to reasonably and lawfully (now) lower this backlog.

The other undeniable, indisputable FACT that is missing from ANY PRESENTATION made by the PROPONENTS of a bigger jail system is the complete lack of adequate mental health Intervention and Prevention of criminal behavior, along with community health coverage tax-paid expansion for cradle-to-grave at-risk populations in Lawrence.

It. Would. Not. Be. An. Issue.

Sharilyn Wells 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Bert Nash helps a lot of people; but Bert Nash gives out a contradictory message things are just great for the mentally ill but we need 5 million to fix it.What they are saying is contradictory if there is only a small number that are seriously left out but you need millions to take care of it. How many are in sleeping bags by the river. . There have been as many as 93 chronically homeless in Lawrence according to Bert Nash report. Also how many people with mental illness are going through Douglas County jail in 2014 there was over a 1000 people with serious mental illness go through the jail in one year.

Kendall Simmons 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Yup. But you and I both know that people with serious mental illness tend to get shunted to the back of the bus.

Richard Heckler 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Our jail population is up because the state increased the time limit on moving a case to trial from 90 to 150 days. People are staying longer in jail.

The above came from the Sam Brownback administration that which is a huge promoter of privatization and is friends with the Private Prison Corporation that no doubt is a source for campaign money. Colyer, Kobach, Wagle and perhaps Derek Schmidt are most likely part of this scam.

When the period was extended to 150 days the Brownback people knew jails would over load THUS opening doors for more private lock ups eventually. We call this massive corruption.

WE don't need a new jail we need to get rid of the corruption behind this scam........

Voters NEED to remove the 150 days and get alleged criminals through the process thus eliminating a number of people from the cells. There is a rotten apple in the Brownback barrel which includes a lot of radical conservatives that supported this nonsense.

Who is a large pusher of privatization? The American Legislative Exchange Council aka ALEC aka Koch dollars and political influence.

Private Prison Corporation keeps prisoners locked up no matter that some become eligible for parole and such so I have read which costs taxpayers a bundle yet pushes profits beyond reality. Conservatives are draining our wallets at every opportunity.

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