Raise Your Voice!

There’s one more vote tomorrow by our County Council to approve or deny our County Commissioners’ funding request for the proposed incarceration expansion.  While it feels like a losing battle right now, below is what I wrote to our County Council as one last effort to raise my voice.  I encourage you to do the same.  County Council emails are:


Dear County Council Members,

It is my understanding that there will be a vote on the funds for the jail expansion plan at tomorrow’s County Council meeting.  I want to reach out one last time and implore you to walk in your authority to approve or deny funds and not just view this responsibility as a formality.  It is very concerning that our County Commissioners are proposing an expansion of incarceration in a county that is not expanding in population.  The fact that we have an overflowing jail in a county with a shrinking population is an indicator of problems that need a solution, not a holding cell.
  1. We need to think more creatively for solutions to improve jail conditions without expanding incarceration.
  2. Recidivism rates indicate that jails fix nothing – they are more of an expensive “time-out” for adults.
  3. We cannot commit well over 45 million dollars of public funds that are intended for community development to expand incarceration.  This is an unethical allocation of tax dollars.
  4. If there are an abundance of county tax dollars available for expenditure, let’s look at the following use of over 45 million (never mind the millions in interest):
    1. Expanding facilities funding to public charter schools, which receive zero local tax dollars, and thus run on budgets that are hundreds of thousands of dollars less per year than their district counterparts.  1 million dollars would pay off Inspire Academy’s facility and repair its roof.
    2. Improve facilities for our local school district: 10 million (1 million per school)
    3. Build a state-of-the-art addiction treatment center:  10 million
    4. Pay for inmates to be housed elsewhere during jail renovations and improvements: 3 million
    5. Jail renovations: 20 million
    6. Investment into city and county business development:  1 million
Why can we find a way to invest 45 million dollars in a school building after it is closed down and repurposed for incarceration when we can’t find a way to invest more money in schools that are open and educating young citizens?  45 million dollars can go a long way on the right projects. The jail expansion proposal that you are going to vote on tomorrow is not an ethical use of funds, and it will further our national trend of incarcerating at higher rates than any other free, developed, and democratic nation.  Voting yes tomorrow will create a stain on our county’s history books.  Please have the strength to vote no to this unethical proposal.
Leslie Draper

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