Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Up to two hundred and twenty million dollars. That’s $220,000,000.00! Think about it.

That's how much the City of Seattle expects it may need to spend on siting and building its own municipal jail. We'll spend at least another 17 to 19 million a year to operate it.

Jails don't make communities safer and they're not an effective or humane response to crime. Incarceration disproportionately affects poor people and people of color. Neighborhood groups are concerned about the impact of a 7-acre jail on their
communities. Going millions of dollars into debt will affect our city budget for years to come and endanger funding for the social services that keep people out of jail in the first place. This is a bad idea.

The city has been saying that this project, while regrettable, is inevitable, that we have to put people who commit misdemeanors somewhere, and we can't put them in King County Jail. But diversion programs like drug court and mental health court, pre-arrest programs like Clean Dreams, and a bigger investment in social services like shelter, housing and mental health services will lower the numbers of misdemeanors and felonies...creating space in the county jail and removing our need to pour millions of dollars into locking people up.

Contact City Council here and tell them to reconsider. And join the Real Change group at the City Council budget hearing on Monday, October 27th. We'll be there at 5:30. Look for the Real Change banner!

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