Letter to the editor: Jail misperception

To the editor:

If you build it, they will fill it. This is the mantra of those vowing to vote against Proposition 1, but who never question as we expand schools, libraries, medical facilities and housing, realizing we are one of the fastest-growing counties in the state. Instead, they choose to believe that an overflowing jail is evidence of collusion among our law enforcement community to punish as many people as they can cram into that jail. Do you suppose the 30 percent of out-of-county residents who commit crimes in Douglas County and serve time excite them, too? It can make one wonder why they created award-winning diversion programs that kept 200 people from going to jail in 2017.

Naturally, the counties that accept the jail overflow only allow “the best behaved,” which means those who would most benefit from our nationally recognized re-entry programs are more likely to re-offend when they are unable to participate in classes targeted at anger management, high school graduation, substance abuse and behavior therapy (read hope). In fact, the re-offender rate dropped when all received the classes, only to increase when overcrowding forced housing elsewhere. The consequences? Our population growth will continue to demand additional space rental in other jails. So, the current $1 million-plus yearly bill will balloon with increased inmates. And they are more likely to re-offend without the benefit of our jail programs. I have to wonder: Who truly believes the size of the jail controls the number of offenders? Seriously.