I must express my concerns regarding Issue 1, the 20- year sales tax increase intended to fund a new “Community Corrections and Rehabilitation Center.”
This project really is a very large jail almost twice the size of the current county jail. While the County Commissioners emphasize “rehabilitation” as the basis of such a large facility, the fact remains that it is a place to lock people up.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in complete favor of locking up individuals who are a danger to our community; community safety must be a priority. But why should we spend so much money locking up people because they have a mental health issue, or a drug problem, or in need of job training and education? The American criminal justice system has not been effective at this.
Next, don’t we already have valuable rehabilitative services in the county that are available at no additional cost to the taxpayers? I have read numerous articles in the local newspapers about the wonderful work of the Community Counseling Center, Lake Area Recovery Center, and Signature Health, and the county has also seen the addition of Square One and Brightview. And what about the county’s drug courts and mental health court? Aren’t they effective criminal justice alternatives to the cost of mass incarceration? Wouldn’t criminal justice dollars be better spent expanding those programs, allowing for greater access to those citizens in need?
This proposal does not make sense to me; therefore, I will be voting “no.”