Letter to the editor: Dire need

To the editor:

Although Douglas County has below-average incarceration rates, our county jail is overcrowded. That situation makes it difficult to offer effective treatment programs for the inmates and more dangerous for both inmates and correctional workers.

When the current jail was built in the 1990s, it was designed for a very different landscape. Our county population was smaller, we had more mental health beds available for those in crisis, and fewer women were incarcerated. This new plan will guarantee that the violent inmates are segregated from the nonviolent inmates and provide safe space for programs to help inmates so they don’t repeatedly return to jail. In addition this plan recognizes that many of those currently incarcerated would be better served by building a new mental illness crisis intervention center. In the last several years our community law enforcement, judicial, health professionals, along with the elected officials have devised a remarkable and comprehensive plan to remodel the jail and create a new crisis intervention center. That plan will not only save us $1 million a year that we spend to house our inmates in neighboring county jails, but it should also improve the outcomes for those incarcerated and those with mental illness.

Our community desperately needs to remodel the jail and build the new crisis intervention center. We vote yes.