In the winter of 2022, the county's plan was to buy 87 acres of land ($10+ million) by Fullerton Pike, and build a large jail complex ($50-60 million), with plans to expand the facility in later years. They said they'd eventually move the entire justice system to this remote property, costing even more taxpayer money.
The city government rejected the rezone of that property, with the support of a large local movement, all arguing that the plan was poorly thought out and that it was cruel to move struggling people out of sight and out of mind, far away from the city center.
This process is moving quickly right now, as a debate emerges in the county government about whether it's worth investing significantly in improving conditions for the people in the jail now, vs. saving those funds for a remote and "treatment-focused" jail in the future.
The new sherriff recently made the news, in late January 2023, by publicizing the disgusting conditions in the jail, asking for money to immediately to clean things up after years of county neglect.
Unfortunately, the county commissioners, (Lee Jones, Julie Thomas, and Penny Githens), are less interested in cleaning things up now, than moving full steam ahead toward a new jail.
What would it cost to fix the current jail? No detailed cost estimates have been done, and it doesn't make sense to move forward without this information.
What steps can they take to have fewer people in jail? How can we make the monroe county jail less traumatizing and more rehabilitive? The Monroe County Commissioners pushing this expansion have refused to center these questions.
Local addiction & mental health services, (especially grassroots organizations representing the people most affected) do not have enough funding. The county is choosing a punitive approach to a community health issue, while they neglect to address notoriously bad conditions in the jail itself.
The bottom line is that putting struggling people in cages, and branding them with a criminal record to cut them off from housing and employment, makes life harder for everyone.
"...reduce incarceration by implementing non- law-enforcement crisis interventions [and] alternatives to incarceration."
"...jail is never going to be an effective mental health treatment provider and should not be relied upon as such."
—— 2020 Ray-JCI & Eve Hill studies, the latest criminal justice recommendations commissioned by the county
We don't have to do this.
The solutions to so much of "crime" is already here, and these solutions just need the real financial and legal support of people in power.
We're working on doing whatever it takes to get our tax dollars to fund care instead of more cages. We meet every thursday 6-7 at the Overlook Community Center (611 W 12th St.), and you can reach us at email@example.com