Letter to the editor: Expansion needed

To the editor:

I am a local criminal defense attorney, and I am writing to express my support for the jail expansion.

There is no doubt that the capacity of our jail to handle the present and future needs of our population is maxed out and that expansion of the jail is necessary. There is simply not enough bed space for the number of inmates at the jail. This problem is particularly egregious in the women’s pod, where inmates are living in common areas, such as the laundry area, conference rooms, etc., sleeping on cots, often sharing the spaces with multiple people. Even using makeshift cells, there is simply not enough space at the jail for the number of inmates.

As a result, many are “farmed out” to jails in other counties, some of which are hours away. This adversely impacts my representation of these clients. There are other adverse consequences as well. The Douglas County Jail has been extremely progressive in its efforts to provide treatment and services designed to help inmates address and overcome the challenges they face. Unfortunately, constantly farming inmates out to other counties interferes with an inmate’s ability to access these programs. I wholeheartedly agree that in the United States mass incarceration is a dire problem that must be addressed. However, I believe that the problem of mass incarceration primarily exists on the state and federal level and needs to be handled through the Legislature and sentencing reform and not at the expense of the welfare of my clients in Douglas County.


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