Archive for Sunday, April 22, 2018

4,198 days in: Meet the Douglas County Jail’s 5 longest residents

Complex, often compounding, court cases are behind most of these inmates’ lengthy stays

The five longest residents of the Douglas County Jail are pictured. From left: Rontarus Washington Jr., 1,133 days; Isaac A. Taylor, 1,029 days; Justin S. Miracle, 773 days; Christopher C. Maier, 652 days; and Danny E. Coleman, 611 days.

The five longest residents of the Douglas County Jail are pictured. From left: Rontarus Washington Jr., 1,133 days; Isaac A. Taylor, 1,029 days; Justin S. Miracle, 773 days; Christopher C. Maier, 652 days; and Danny E. Coleman, 611 days.

April 22, 2018

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There’s a man who’s been in the custody of the Douglas County Jail more than three years and counting, with his trial not set to begin for another five months.

Two others have been in custody more than two years, one with a court case still pending and another who’s serving a sentence.

A number of others have been inmates for more than one year.

Who are these inmates, and why have they been in custody so long?

To answer that, the Journal-World requested from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office the names of the inmates in continuous custody the longest, along with their booking dates and charges. The newspaper then reviewed each of the five longest inmate’s case files in Douglas County District Court.

With mail-in voting opening this week on a half-cent sales tax to fund a $44 million, 179-bed expansion of the jail and an $11 million behavioral health campus, the inmates overflowing the current jail have been a point of focus for the community.

The five longest inmates featured here have been in custody a combined 4,198 days. Their stays represent an extreme.

So far in 2018, the average length of stay for inmates is 15 1/2 days, according to Sgt. Kristen Channel of the sheriff’s office. In 2014, the average stay was 10 days, she said.

But although the number of days represent an extreme, the issues plaguing these cases can be found in many others. Determining a defendant’s mental health status can take a long time. The same is true for addressing drug and alcohol issues. Defendants also have great latitude to fire their attorneys — one of these fired three in a five-month span in one of his cases — which slows the process each time. And sometimes judges just decide a serial offender needs to spend a good amount of time in jail. Felony sentences generally are served in a state prison, but misdemeanors are served in jail. And as one case below shows, you can get in quite a lot of trouble with misdemeanors, if you keep committing them one after another.

The Douglas County Jail is tasked with finding room for everyone, regardless of how long their cases take. The jail is consistently over its 186-inmate capacity — a recent one-day count tallied 246 in custody — and the county spends about $1.5 million a year paying other counties to house the overflow.

Figuring out how to make cases move faster, theoretically, would relieve pressure on the jail. But Sheriff Ken McGovern reminds people that his office doesn’t play any role in speeding up that process, which isn't a simple one.

“It’s driven by the courts, the prosecutor, the defense,” McGovern said. “It’s also driven by treatment centers, plans for release. It’s a bunch of moving parts.”

The county’s top prosecutor contends some cases are simply going to be lengthy.

“Generally, cases shouldn’t take this long,” Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said. “But sometimes there are forces at work that are beyond the prosecutor’s control, and beyond the court’s control, that require delays in the case.”

Judges are the gatekeepers in ruling on requests by attorneys and keeping cases moving.

Douglas County District Court’s chief judge, Peggy Kittel, said she doesn’t think the county’s judges are approving frivolous requests that needlessly delay trials.

Kittel said if a defendant demands their preliminary hearing in 14 days or their case heard by a jury in the speedy trial window, the court makes it happen.

But when defense attorneys say they need more time, that request is taken seriously, Kittel said. If not, the case could be vulnerable to an appeal. Evidence, especially with increasing amounts of video and electronic information, takes significant time to review. Mental health and substance abuse evaluations and treatment also add time to cases, and Kittel said she thinks those requests for the most part are justified, too.

Kittel also said she is glad to see attempts at getting a handle on defendants’ mental illness, PTSD and drug and alcohol problems, sometimes even in the middle of criminal proceedings.

“We’re trying to address the origins of the criminal behavior, and that’s something we didn’t do a decade or two decades ago,” Kittel said. “It seems to me the criminal justice system as a whole is doing a better job at identifying those problems.”

But yes, she said, tackling those issues does add a lot of time.

These inmates are some examples.


No. 1 — Rontarus Washington Jr.

First-degree murder case, extensive pretrial disputes over mental fitness and evidence

Age: 21

Booked: March 16, 2015

Days in custody: 1,133

Rontarus Washington Jr. has a sole, but serious, criminal case in Douglas County.

Rontarus Washington Jr.

Rontarus Washington Jr.

Washington’s jury trial, already pushed back multiple times, is now scheduled to begin at the end of September — nearly four years after he allegedly stabbed and bludgeoned his 19-year-old neighbor to death in her bathroom at Cedarwood Apartments, 1727 W. 24th St.

In the meantime, Washington has been in custody for just over three years and a month, on $750,000 bond.

The DA’s paper case file for him would fill, and probably overflow, a shopping cart.

With more than half a dozen motions hearings — some that will take entire days — yet to go before he reaches trial, that file will keep expanding.

Washington is charged with first-degree murder, for allegedly intentionally killing Justina Altamirano Mosso on Nov. 7, 2014. He’s also charged with aggravated burglary, for allegedly entering Mosso’s apartment while she was home to commit theft.

Washington was booked into the jail March 16, 2015, after he was captured in Mississippi and transported back here.

Evaluations and debate over whether Washington is mentally fit to stand trial ate up close to a full year of his time in custody.

After at least one local psychological exam in early 2016, the court deemed him competent to stand trial, and other proceedings continued. But in 2017, Washington was sent to Larned State Hospital, where he spent several months undergoing an in-depth competency evaluation there.

Over the course of months upon his return, attorneys argued about his competency in a series of in-depth hearings that pitted an evaluation performed by the defense’s expert, who said Washington had cognitive disabilities, against one completed by Larned staff, who said he was capable. In late November 2017, the judge again ruled Washington was competent.

Defense attorneys have also filed extensive legal motions on Washington’s behalf, some of which involve requesting more DNA testing and requesting permission to admit evidence at trial that someone else committed the murder.

“Rontarus Washington Jr. has steadfastly maintained his factual innocence to the charges against him,” they wrote in one request. “... A careful, complete, and methodical analysis of the physical evidence is therefore necessary to ensure that neither Rontarus Washington Jr., nor his community is (irreparably) harmed or put at risk due to the incarceration of an innocent man instead of the guilty one.”

Among other complications, some witness testimony and written evidence has required Spanish translators.

Washington’s case had about a dozen witnesses named on the original charging document. According to a recently updated version, there are now more than 150.


No. 2 — Isaac A. Taylor

A stabbing charge, then a year and a half at the state psychiatric hospital

Age: 28

Booked: June 28, 2015

Days in custody: 1,029

On June 28, 2015, Isaac A. Taylor — seemingly unprovoked — stabbed a 17-year-old boy in the back of the neck with a pocketknife outside a deli in the 800 block of Massachusetts Street, police said at the time. The teen told police he didn’t know why, speculating only that maybe the assailant was angry because a few minutes earlier he’d given another transient man some change but didn’t give any to him.

Isaac A. Taylor

Isaac A. Taylor

Taylor, who was homeless, was arrested nearby and charged the next day with one count of aggravated battery, a felony. Bond was set at $15,000.

Taylor’s nearly three years in custody have been largely consumed by competency proceedings — including close to a year and a half he spent committed in Larned State Hospital.

Soon after Taylor was charged, “based on the defendant’s inability to understand the proceedings,” the judge ordered a psychiatric exam to determine whether he was mentally fit to stand trial.

About a month later, he was deemed competent, waived his preliminary hearing and was bound over for trial.

But in early 2016, Taylor’s attorney asked for proceedings to be delayed again “to inquire into possible mental health issues.” In September 2016, following another psychiatric exam, the judge found Taylor was not fit to stand trial and ordered him committed to Larned.

Now back in the Douglas County Jail, Taylor has finally “gained competency,” according to a March entry in his case. Criminal proceedings against him are scheduled to resume with a status conference on Tuesday.


No. 3 — Justin S. Miracle

Serving time for misdemeanors — lots of misdemeanors

Age: 36

Booked: March 9, 2016

Days in custody: 773

Justin S. Miracle’s court cases are resolved, and he’s now serving his time — a longer-than-typical sentence by county jail standards.

Justin S. Miracle

Justin S. Miracle

Miracle’s 30-month jail sentence resulted from a pileup of misdemeanor convictions and repeated failures while out of jail.

A timeline:

• March 2014 — Miracle is charged with felony identity theft and two counts of misdemeanor interference with law enforcement. He posts bond of $2,750.

• April 2014 — Miracle takes a plea deal and is convicted of one misdemeanor; other charges are dropped. He gets probation.

• June 2014 — Miracle picks up new charges: felony burglary plus misdemeanor theft, interference with law enforcement and fleeing police. Lawrence police pulled him over after seeing him nearly hit a parked car, but he ran, police said at the time. They arrested him about an hour later after he allegedly stole a laptop computer and shawl from a nearby home. He’s released on a $1,500 “own recognizance” bond.

• September 2014 — Miracle again takes a plea deal and is convicted of misdemeanors. He’s again granted probation.

• October 2015 — Still on probation, Miracle picks up more charges: battery and interference against law enforcement, misdemeanors.

• January 2016 — Miracle escapes from custody. He gets a new misdemeanor charge.

• March 9, 2016 — Miracle gets caught, and this time doesn’t get out. He was arrested for driving recklessly while trying to flee police and interfering with law enforcement, two new felony charges allege. He later is convicted of both felony counts.

• November 2016 — Citing a drug and alcohol evaluation, Miracle’s attorney asks for sentencing to be delayed so Miracle can go to a Topeka inpatient facility for a month. Though none of Miracle’s charges were for drugs or DUI, the attorney wrote, “he has active addiction issues with stimulants and alcohol that need to be addressed to assure compliance with terms of probation and avoidance of future unlawful activity.” The judge instead sentences him the same day.

For all the earlier convictions Miracle racked up, the judge orders Miracle to serve a total sentence of 30 months in custody at the county jail. After that, he’s to serve probation for his two felony convictions, with an underlying prison sentence if he fails, according to a judgment in the March 2016 case.

Miracle has sent handwritten letters to the court asking for his sentence to be reduced in exchange for participating in the jail’s inmate worker program.

“I have learned my lesson and I have grown up quite a bit since the court has sentenced me,” he wrote in one signed earlier this year. “I know what I did was wrong and just plain stupid. I promise if given a chance of freedom I will not make jail a revolving door.”


No. 4 — Christopher C. Maier

Charge after charge, streams of handwritten letters and legal filings

Age: 30

Booked: July 9, 2016

Days in custody: 652

Christopher C. Maier’s numerous case files dating to 2011 include hundreds of pages of handwritten letters and pro-se legal filings, embellished with a drawing Maier calls the “ion seal” and often signed “Christiano: of the Ariel Dynasty.”

Christopher C. Maier

Christopher C. Maier

At one court hearing last year, he refused to appear from the jail “unless and until the Court and the paperwork acknowledged him as Lucious Inferno Valentine,” a court journal entry says.

He has fired multiple attorneys. “I want a attorney who does not spend his time eating and hanging out with the officers & D.A.s of this town,” Maier complained about his first appointed attorney in one case. Claiming another attorney was “caught” talking to a prosecutor, Maier wrote, “I want him arrested.”

Another appointed attorney, Dakota Loomis, described working with Maier in a request for the court to find a case exceptional for payment purposes: “Defendant presented unique challenges due to his continuous production of letters to the Court and the State. This added numerous hours of review by defense counsel that would not be required in a nonextraordinary case. Defendant additionally required attention above and beyond that of an ordinary client due to his demanding and unpredictable nature.”

The alleged crimes that landed Maier in jail — this time around — were violent.

In June of 2016, he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated battery, both felonies, plus criminal restraint, a misdemeanor. According to the police affidavit for his arrest, Maier hit a woman he’d had a relationship with, pointed a gun at her and threatened to shoot her, then bloodied her face with the butt of the gun.

Since being arrested on those charges July 9, 2016, he picked up new misdemeanor charges while in custody: two counts of criminal damage for allegedly damaging a “window and tray” and breaking a TV at the jail in October 2016.

Before his most recent jail booking, Maier did prison time for robbery conspiracy. He’s also been in the county jail before on methamphetamine possession and distribution charges and domestic violence charges against another woman, though both of those cases ended up dismissed.

In late 2016 and again in 2017, the judge ordered local psychiatric exams for Maier. In June 2017, the judge ordered him to Larned State Hospital to undergo a psychiatric exam. In January of this year she ordered him to undergo treatment at Larned for up to 90 days.

Maier is back in the Douglas County Jail now. He has a jury trial scheduled for July 30.

Meanwhile, he continues writing letters to the court.


No. 5 — Danny E. Coleman

Dozens of charges, a botched chance at inpatient treatment

Age: 33

Booked: Aug. 18, 2016

Days in custody: 611

Danny E. Coleman has been charged in more than 20 district court cases since 2003 — a mixture of felonies and misdemeanors — and served a web of prison time and probation in the past.

Now, he has a batch of about eight cases still pending. Most were filed in 2016, which Coleman spent posting bond in one case only to allegedly commit new crimes and get booked on the next.

Danny E. Coleman

Danny E. Coleman

That year, he was charged with felonies including aggravated robbery, theft, methamphetamine possession, forgery and criminal use of a financial card.

He was booked into jail Aug. 18, 2016, on a warrant for the aggravated robbery plus charges from another new incident that day, this time with a $30,000 bond.

A few months later, Coleman’s appointed attorney cited his “history of serious substance abuse” and “profound” mental health conditions including depression, anxiety disorders and cognitive impairment and asked the court to send him to inpatient treatment before resolving his case.

Being in jail seemed to break Coleman’s pattern of drug use and he was no longer experiencing withdrawal, attorney Angela Keck wrote, but he still “appears to be lacking the coping skills necessary to obtain full recovery from his addictions without the intervention of residential treatment.”

Deputies transported Coleman to an inpatient treatment center, where he was ordered to stay, still in the sheriff’s custody even though he was out of the jail.

But on Nov. 1, 2016, Coleman left. He was charged with aggravated escape from custody, another felony, and his bond went up to $100,000.

Coleman, in a later letter to the court, said he was “forced to leave” after being confronted by a co-defendant getting treatment at the same facility.

“I defendant Danny E. Coleman did not wont to catch a new charge in my distress acted to the best of my ability and removed myself from the situation by leaving,” Coleman wrote, double underlining ‘distress.’

In September 2017, Coleman entered a plea, convicting him of several charges in his batch of cases, including more than one felony.

The he started firing attorneys.

Citing a “breakdown” in communication, Keck withdrew.

Coleman’s new appointed attorney requested a psychological exam and, citing the results, later asked the court to give Coleman probation with inpatient treatment (in Wichita, where he wouldn’t run into people he knows) instead of prison, which he faces under sentencing guidelines. Last month, Jim Rumsey wrote that prison time for his felonies followed by local jail time for his misdemeanors would be “overboard” and “manifest injustice” for Coleman, because of his “mild intellectual disability.” He said the Wichita treatment center could help him apply for disability or help him find “low functioning employment.”

“If the Defendant goes to prison, he will receive virtually no treatment for substance abuse … and, it will be likely that he will reoffend shortly thereafter,” Rumsey wrote.

Then Coleman fired Rumsey in an angry phone call, telling Rumsey he’d been “done dirty” and wanted to “start from the beginning,” Rumsey wrote in his motion to withdraw from the case.

A week and a half ago, Coleman got a new attorney, who told the judge Coleman was considering withdrawing the pleas he made last fall.

Coleman is scheduled for sentencing on April 30.


More longtime inmates

These inmates round out the list, requested by the Journal-World, of the 10 people in the longest continuous custody of the Douglas County Jail, and their charges.

Source: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office


Sean P. Campbell

Sean P. Campbell

No. 6 — Sean P. Campbell

Age: 40

Days in custody: 548

Charges: Sentenced. Battery on law enforcement, violation of a protective order, domestic battery (second conviction), domestic battery (third conviction, a felony).


Wynn S. Anderson

Wynn S. Anderson

No. 7 — Wynn S. Anderson

Age: 38

Days in custody: 520

Charges: Attempted second-degree murder, criminal threat, probation violation.


Christopher A. Hinson

Christopher A. Hinson

No. 8 — Christopher A. Hinson

Age: 20

Days in custody: 493

Charges: Aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, probation violation (out of county), battery and disorderly conduct (out of county).


Maurice A. Atkins

Maurice A. Atkins

No. 9 — Maurice A. Atkins

Age: 29

Days in custody: 439

Charges: Sentenced. Two probation violations.


Norris M. Hunter

Norris M. Hunter

No. 10 — Norris M. Hunter

Age: 36

Days in custody: 411

Charges: Aggravated robbery.

More coverage: Douglas County votes on jail expansion, behavioral health campus
• May 14, 2018 — County clerk reports that about 40 percent of Proposition 1 ballots have been returned by eve of deadline

• May 9 — Latest debate in sales tax election: How far can the county go in pushing for a ‘yes’ vote?

• May 8 — Proposition 1 brochures removed from County Treasurer’s Office counter after citizen complains

• May 7 — Proposition 1 ballots coming in at ‘impressive’ rate; county clerk says turnout could exceed 45 percent

• April 30 — Jail referendum fact check: A look at what both sides aren’t saying about the heated campaign

• April 30 — Midcase mental health evaluations for Douglas County jail inmates have increased

• April 30 — How much is violent crime up in Douglas County? Either a lot or very little, depending on which statistics you look at

• April 24 — A look at what is included in the proposed Douglas County Jail expansion

• April 23 — Americans for Prosperity campaigning against sales tax in county referendum

• April 22 — At forum, Douglas County commissioner explains 'what if' option if sales tax referendum fails

• April 22 — Get ready to vote: Questions and answers on the Douglas County half-cent sales tax ballot question

• April 22 — 4,198 days in: Meet the Douglas County Jail’s 5 longest residents

• April 20 — County says Justice Matters using wrong law to try to force mental health vote; group plans to start petition drive on Saturday

• April 18 — Douglas County leaders learn about first participant in diversion program for female inmates; Thellman cites Constitution on jail expansion issue

• April 17 — Average daily population at Douglas County Jail fell slightly in 2017 to reverse 5-year trend

• April 17 — Douglas County counselor: Meeting with Justice Matters about proposed petition would not be appropriate

• April 17 — Despite campaign literature to the contrary, county officials confirm there’s no legal finding that Douglas County Jail must be expanded

• April 16 — Douglas County legal counselor finds proposed Justice Matters petition legally invalid, but group says it can be fixed

• April 16 — What you will see and hear on a Douglas County Jail tour

• April 15 — Speakers at criminal justice, behavioral health forum look beyond jail expansion, crisis center

• April 14 — County-funded training expands number of peer-support specialists to share ‘been there, got better’ message

• April 11 — Criminal justice group’s spokeswoman says expanding Douglas County Jail would contribute to nation’s mass incarceration problem

• April 9 — Douglas County Commission may be forced to put new mental health, tax plan on November ballot

• March 25 — Increasing population at Douglas County jail at odds with national trend

• March 22 — Advocacy group forms to support county referendum on jail expansion, behavioral health initiatives

• March 21 — Douglas County District Court chief judge defends court’s processes, agrees serious felony crime is increasing

• March 12 — County’s pretrial release, home-arrest programs diverting large numbers from jail, but not enough to prevent overcrowding

• March 11 — DA was more likely to grant a diversion in 2017, but number of people seeking them declined

• March 6 — Douglas County Sheriff’s Office offering jail tours, presentations in advance of spring referendum

• March 5 — Online behavioral health care site available free to county residents pending referendum outcome

• March 4 — Felonies, not pot smoking, filling up the Douglas County Jail, new report says

• March 3 — Activist groups kick off their campaign against jail expansion

• March 1 — Town Talk: Here comes the opposition: Four groups join forces to campaign against Douglas County jail expansion

• Feb. 21 — Douglas County will face tough choices on jail expansion if tax referendum fails, official says

• Feb. 20 — Building jail expansion in phases would take 16 years, $6M to $8M a year, county says

• Feb. 19 — Town Talk: Fact checking county commissioners on assertion that big budget cuts will come if voters reject jail/mental health sales tax

• Feb. 17 — Activist leaders blast proposed expansion of Douglas County Jail

• Feb. 12 — As voters consider $44M expansion, report finds some changes could reduce overcrowding at Douglas County Jail

• Feb. 7 — Douglas County Commission to schedule forums on jail and mental health referendum, provide information on what happens if voters reject

• Feb. 4 — Johnson County built a larger jail and now has 300 unused beds; Douglas County can't use them

• Jan. 30 — State law won't allow Douglas County commissioners to campaign for passage of jail, mental health sales tax

• Jan. 24 — Douglas County Commission approves language for ballot question on jail expansion, behavioral health campus

• Jan. 22 — Following the money: Douglas County partners beefing up behavioral health services with funding

• Jan. 17 — Douglas County Commission agrees to put jail expansion, behavioral health campus on same ballot question

• Jan. 16 — Town Talk: Many residents want to vote separately on jail, mental health projects; there's a way, but county unlikely to go there

• Jan. 16 — Douglas County commissioners ready to ask voters to approve jail expansion, behavioral health initiatives

• Jan. 15 — 2014 speedy trial redefinition clogging Douglas County jail, district court

• Jan. 10 — Price tag of behavioral health campus, services estimated at $5.76 million annually

• Jan. 8 — No insurance and hooked on drugs? Chances are, you won't find treatment in Douglas County

• Jan. 5 — Town Talk: A look at how high Lawrence's sales tax rate would be if voters approve increase for jail, mental health

• Jan. 3, 2018 — Due to misunderstanding, county now says jail expansion, mental health projects must be on same sales tax ballot

• Dec. 31, 2017 — Undersheriff says 2016 annual report shows overcrowding threatening jail safety, re-entry programming

• Dec. 18 — Behavioral health campus plan grew from recognition of housing's role in crisis recovery

• Dec. 13 — Services that will be part of behavioral health campus to be introduced next month at LMH

• Dec. 13 — Douglas County commissioners confident of voter buy-in on jail expansion plan

• Nov. 30 — Douglas County commission agrees to move ahead with $44 million jail expansion design

• Nov. 26 — Sheriff's Office exploring modular units as stopgap solution to Douglas County Jail overcrowding

• Nov. 8 — Douglas County Sheriff's Office recommends jail redesign that would more than double number of beds

• Oct. 4 — Jail expansion, crisis center would require public vote on new taxes, officials say

• Sept. 20 — Estimated cost to expand Douglas County Jail jumps by millions of dollars

• July 26 — Douglas County Commission to forward report on future jail population to architects

• July 16 — Double bunking not considered solution for Douglas County Jail overcrowding

• June 26 — Jail, mental health initiatives help drive proposed tax increase in 2018 county budget

• May 14 — Douglas County data showing swelling jail population despite fewer arrests

• April 5, 2017 — Sheriff urges Douglas County Commission to make jail expansion a priority
Contact public safety reporter Sara Shepherd
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Comments

Richard Heckler 4 weeks ago

AS long as they are allowed to fire court appointed legal assistance as many times as they please it seems to me some have discovered a means to stay in douglas county. Where did this privilege come from?

They must know that committing crimes could land them in prison sooner or later.

Is jail time not a deterrent to crime?

It seems to me as I read..... Douglas County needs a Mental Health Campus pronto before we need twice as many new jail cells.

Local jails are tax dollar money holes.

The college town Iowa City voted no three times on a jail expansion proposal with the jail population decreasing all along the way. They appear to have a significantly reduced jail population at this point in time. From what I heard the taxpayers were being told the same story we are being told as to why a larger jail would be best. Yet their jail population has continued to drop.

One reason our new privatized prison system is becoming over crowded is that the private prison corporations have been given complete authority to decide IF an inmate can be paroled..... instead of leaving the decision to the judicial system. In order to maximize investments prisoned must be kept at capacity 24/7 which of course is billed to we the taxpayer.

Another back door tax increase designed by conservative politicians.

Steve Jacob 4 weeks ago

Again, I say it, what person in jail does not have a mental illness? I would for sure rather stay in DG County jail then Lancing, so why not delay, delay, delay.

Bob Smith 4 weeks ago

Were these miscreants serving to fertilize the earth instead of taxing its resources, we'd all be better off.

Scott Callahan 4 weeks ago

Public Shaming. Typical LJW, nosy hick news.

Jake Davis 4 weeks ago

All dirt bags!!! Douglas County has found a place to house them so they can not steal, sell drugs, break into our homes, and murder innocent victims!! What about Robert Gilmore...he surely has been in there longer than all of the aforementioned.

Bob Summers 3 weeks, 6 days ago

It is too bad they are not in profoundly enlightened Liberal states like Maine and Vermont where incarcerated Felons get to vote.

Richard Heckler 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Q: How would the sales tax revenue be split among the jail and behavioral health needs?

A: That is not explained in the referendum’s ballot language. Instead, county officials have offered estimates based on how the plans are currently proposed. County officials estimate the mental health project would require 20 annual payments of $750,000 annually to pay off bonded debt for the $11 million behavioral health campus. The county also has said the sales tax would provide $5.1 million in operating revenues for behavioral health services, both at the new campus and countywide. The sales tax also would provide about $1 million for additional operational costs at the expanded jail. That would leave $2.95 million in sales tax money that could be used for annual payments on a 20-year jail expansion bond.

Q: What will the county do if the sales tax fails?

A: It is uncertain. All three county commissioners have stated they would work to create a plan to expand the jail, even if the sales tax is defeated. That plan could involve budget cuts, additional property taxes, and other budgetary adjustments, but those details wouldn’t be known until the county approved its budget in August 2018. County commissioners, though, have conceded the county would not have the necessary funds in the 2019 budget to fund the entire $44 million jail expansion plan. Any expansion would have to occur incrementally, they have said. What would happen in future years is even less certain because one of the three seats on the commission is up for election in November 2018. The other two seats are up for election in November 2020. In addition, even if the current sales tax proposal fails, the county still would have the legal authority to modify its proposal and ask voters to consider a different sales tax question.

Bob Smith 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Third time's the charm with this post today? Or is it three strikes and you're out?

Susie Rockhold 3 weeks, 6 days ago

If my fellow residents of Douglas county think the criminal element is going away, we are sadly mistaken. it is not going away , it will only get worse. I have seen my once bucolic neighborhood go from sweet loving neighbors to transients, illegals, gangs, drug deals in broad daylight so blatant and daring, crime, robberies, and violence that comes with it.

I do not understand why folks think we should kill the upcoming vote for more focus on mental health and reducing jail populations as if we don't need a jail, just more mental health for 'rescue and treatment'. So, will this make our health care providers jailers? Just because an alleged violent offender,thief, rapist, violent, robbery, etc. has a mental health "issue", doesn't mean we ignore the crime. They need help yes. but it doesn't excuse their actions of their crimes - and the rights of victims for crying out loud . Build the damn jail, take the money and work on the mental health system that goes along with it.We now have the extent of 3 or 4 generations of drug/alcohol addiction, sense of entitlement and a never ending cycle of abuse and poverty. but get them off the streets first. I will be the first one to be royally ticked if my attacker was not tried and convicted because they have/had some addiction, issue or lacking judgement because they were too high or the next gang ticked them off and i got caught in the crossfire. The time to act is now before a gang fight rolls through your neighborhood, or some rapist leaves a 4 block trail of robbery, assault and fear 2 blocks from your home. Before it's your son or daughter left dead or missing. Before you and your dog are both shot for a pocket full of change. Young people are gunning each other down on Mass and every other main street in America. Lawrence's little bedroom community will soon be swallowed up between Kansas City and Topeka. After that happens, all bets are off. The criminal element will be in full stride and running straight through our town.

Not happening in your back yard ? I guarantee you It will, and you should be very concerned.

Vote to Build the jail and to use the money already build in to this plan to get a jump on the mental health needs of the incarcerated. The Strength and Courage at Bert Nash is legendary. LMH is leading the way with new programs, buildings and services. The Health Department is being carefully poised and planning for the future. Health Care professionals know full well what is and what is going to happen. Nothing says we citizens cant tweak the long range plan as we go. I don't care who's business plan you look at. Things change and suddenly your carefully thought out 5 year business plan has to be reevaluated and new directions sought.

Thank you for allowing my opinion. Justice folks can hammer back at me with fact and figures, maybe a scripture or two , and i'm sure you will. My opinion is my own, do what you feel is best for you. I'm voting yes.

Jake Davis 3 weeks, 6 days ago

I could not agree with you more....If anyone has any questions about crime in Lawrence, look what is reported on the Lawrence Police Scanner via their FB page and you will be amazed at what our Police Department and community faces on a daily basis. If locking these dirt bags up that rob, steal, and use drugs is what it takes, then I will pay for it. I do not want to see our community downtrodden like Topeka has become.

Paul Youk 3 weeks, 5 days ago

Hey everyone, just in time for the jail vote, here's another story whose sole purpose is to frame things specifically in a way that increases the perception of the value of jails. If you weren't convinced by the mostly one-way coverage and the 'educational' forums and mailers, here a list of scary, dangerous people to smack you in straight in the lizard part of the brain. If you don't support making Lawrence the most taxed place in Kansas with yet another increase in regressive taxation to expand our jail capacity, you might as well just be asking to have crazy, scary men ruin your community.

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