Andrew McCullough's Blog

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jails too small?

Sunday, June 24, 2007 -- Today the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper reported that the Salt Lake County Jail has had to start releasing women prisoners becuase there is no room for them. They will begin releasing male prisoners shortly , for the same reason. The paper quotes Salt Lake City Prosecutor Sim Gill (unsuccessful candidate for Salt Lake District Attorney last year) as saying the County has not properly funded the jail, and that they must step up, provide more money, and find more room. Mr. Gill obviously wants more people in jail at greater taxpayer expense.

The County Mayor is quoted as saying ; "If the sheriff tells us that we're going to have to release violent offenders who should not be out in society, then I would support opening up more beds." Both men seem to have a misunderstanding of the type of people who are in their jail. There are some who are indeed dangerious, and are awaiting trial on serious felony offenses. Many, however, are booked on misdemeanors such as possession of marijuana or of drug paraphernailia. Others did not pay their traffic fines, and are found in contempt of court. Once again the "war on drugs" rears its ugly head. If people are put in jail for possession of drugs (for being victims of drug dealers), they overcrowd the system, and it begins to fall apart under the stress. The average citizen wants more people in jail for non-violent offenses, such as drug use; but they also want to be sure there is no new jail built in their community. They do not want to pay the price of the drug war; but they seem to support that war, without an understanding of the cost.

This is the end result, and it is just going to get worse, until our government comes up with a sensible drug policy . Ladies and gentlemen, get out your wallets and give until it hurts (more).


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