Letter to the editor: Pricey cages

To the editor:

Putting aside the additional harm inflicted on those jailed, even a few days on petty offenses, and their families, and just contemplating the fiscal insanity of the county’s $30 million plan to expand the jail beggars the imagination. No one with a modicum of common sense could think this is a good idea:

Construction cost per cell:

$268,000 (112 cell version)

$357,000 (84 cell version)

This far exceeds the $242,248 average 2019-sold-price for an entire family home in Lawrence. That’s crazy.

Daily cost per cell:

$185 (112 cell version)

$246 (84 cell version)

A king suite (350 square feet) at The Oread hotel with four times the space only costs $179. That’s crazy too.

Suddenly $100-a-day cells in other counties sounds like a bargain.

There surely are better ways to spend $7-$8 million annually and help those in trouble with the law instead of harming them further by sticking them in expensive cages for 10 days.

We have plenty of secure cells for the few hardened criminals. We don’t need more cells for people that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

To his credit, the district attorney has proposed several sound alternatives to incarceration. It’s time for the district judges to do the same. They could end the overcrowding tomorrow.

For starters, how about the extensive use of ankle-bracelet jail ($5-$15 per day) to assure appearances (in lieu of cash bail) and for failures to appear. I could go on, but my 250 words are used up.

Jerry Harper,



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