Archive for Monday, April 23, 2018

Letter to the editor: Dire need

April 23, 2018


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.


Jerry Harper 4 weeks ago

The jail proposal does not save the county $1 million. It costs the county $9 million. It costs $1,3 million a year to rent cell space. It costs $10 million a year to do what the commission is campaigning to do for the next 20 years And 2/3 rds of the cells will be empty.

Kendall Simmons 4 weeks ago

I was ALSO going to argue with that "save $1 million" nonsense.

My gosh...excluding the costs of building the darned extension, it's gonna cost us an ADDITIONAL $6 MILLION A YEAR in staffing costs.

So that so-called "saved" million merely REDUCES our additional staffing costs. We're still having to spend an ADDITIONAL $5 million a year.

This is basic arithmetic. I wonder why people can't put two and two together and come up with four.

Steve Jacob 4 weeks ago

Increase of population, guns and drugs and the jail will be 2/3 empty in 20 years. That's a nice dream world you live in.

Richard Heckler 4 weeks ago

Reduce the number of new "beds" by 50% then give the women 30 of those new beds in a separate cell block/building. Douglas County may never keep these beds occupied. Who knows how many will be required in 20 years. Too much speculation by consultants. The focus needs to be less inmates in the future not more.

If Johnson County Iowa can do it we in Douglas County Kansas can do it. Johnson County thought they should be able to do it which must have stimulated creative juices.

Hire more staff in the DA's office to keep cases moving and hire additional county jail employees to relieve stress on existing staff people.

Then build additional living quarters at the mental health care facility.

$41 million plus operational expenses and such is a lot of tax dollars.

The higher the sales tax the less attractive Lawrence,Kansas becomes ...... bedroom communities never pay back.

The city and county should borrow from existing sales tax sources to accomplish the above. This is a community issue NOT a county only issue. Pool the resources.

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