No New Jail

Spokane’s Top Priority?

  1. How do our elected public officials respond to the worst depression in memory?

  2. BulletWith jobs? Health care? Housing? Childcare? Education? Infrastructure?

  3. BulletNo, the priority for Commissioners Richard and Mielke and Sheriff Knezovich is a new, $300 million dollar jail.

We Can Do Better!

  1. BulletSpokane’s jail population has been falling dramatically, resulting in layoffs of more than 67 jail personnel in 2010 alone - despite the sheriff’s elimination of diversionary programs designed to keep people out of jail.

  2. BulletSo questionable that the Commission has hired, at taxpayer expense ($108,000.00), a full time PR firm, Tobby Hatley and Associates, to sell it to us. Is this why we are beginning to see jail-favorable videos and other media pieces planted to look like news?

  3. So what is wrong with a new jail - apart from its ridiculous price tag?

  4. BulletIt is unnecessary as well as the worst of many alternatives to what the county claims to be necessary. Click here to read the many means other jurisdictions have used to reduce jail populations.

  5. BulletIt is much more costly to operate, likely requiring a sales tax increase as described in this article.

  6. BulletIt perpetuates the practice of criminalizing mental illness. The sheriff himself says that his is the second largest mental health institution in the Sate, but this is not money for a legitimate mental health institution that may better serve the entire county.

  7. BulletIt is debtors’ prison for roughly 16% of inmates, there for reasons stemming from their failure to pay their court debts - something the courts call legal financial obligations. More on debtors prison here.

  8. BulletCommissioners Richard and Mielke initially decided to have this question voted on alone at a special election in April 2011, for an additional $365,000. Today, all sitting commissioners voted to put off the vote until August or November 2011.

  9. BulletCommissioners Richard and Mielke, September 29, 2010, declared the need for a new jail an “emergency,” thereby overriding the need to follow laws regarding environmental and land use regulations.

  10. BulletCity of Kirkland buys former Costco Home location-Seattle Times ... Sep 2, 2010 ... It will house the police department, jail and municipal courts, a city spokeswoman said.

How does Spokane County compare with the rest of the country? 71% versus 28%

The (Spokane County) jail is impacted by the percentage of offenders who receive Jail time as their sentence. 71 percent of (Spokane) felony offenders received a jail sentence, higher than the national average of 28% . . . The Bennett Study, Needs Assessment - p8.

The cost of jail

The cost of building and operating jails drains community assets essential to our quality of life and safety. To these we can add the loss of street improvement, street lighting, snow removal as well as police and fire protection.

Build it and they will come . . .

Political and economic incentives are geared to filling jails. We - Spokane County area endorsers of this website - believe that there are better uses for our taxes than further investment in failed policies of retribution and incarceration which are generally costlier than a college education and have little to do with either deterrence or safety. We believe that more jail cells foster less incentive to 1) distinguish between harmful and victimless crime or 2) pursue the many more effective alternatives to incarceration. We believe that we may learn from more civilized societies which enjoy both significantly lower rates of crime and incarceration. We are determined to end the craziness of politicians and the profits of the prison industry - at least in Spokane County. Join us.

In Texas a $600 million prison-expansion plan was shelved in 2007 in favor of a 241 million plan expanding community-based drug and alcohol treatment services, after researchers convinced legislators that the latter would lower crime rates more than expanding the state’s penal infrastructure. As a result, the notoriously prison-tough Lone Star State, whose leaders used to boast about its extraordinarily high incarceration rate, is implementing some of the country’s most innovative reforms . . . Texas joined twenty-five other states that saw reductions in the size of their inmate population last year.

  1. -The Nation, July 5, 2010

More on the spreading, worldwide decarceration movement and the benefits delivered here.

Does the County’s withdrawal of any jail bond measure this year mean we have won? Not likely. Could recent County Commissioners’ conversations with a Las Vegas construction company of questionable origins mean they intend to build by hook or by crook?