Friday, November 14, 2008
Canyon County Commishes have figured out they need voter approvals to spend big bucks.
It also appears they will not be moving forward against the citizens lawsuit on their piecemeal expense approach on the "temporary, warehouse, permanent, holding facility jail project". They are out of your cash and need bond money.
They still have the cart out in front of the horse. No dollar amount has been mentioned as yet for this project nor are they offering up what it will cost to staff maintain and operate a new jail in the out of town location.
Jail property on Hwy 20/26 site was purchased in 2007 for around $2 million and another $1.5 million in engineering costs have been racked up. A well funded group of ticked off voters have the Commishes in court right now over the piecemeal approach to get around voters on the current jail project.
Commishes have used the last three years in a vain effort to exclude voters from the process and now they want to have a ceremony to convey rights of passage on their financial blunders. County Deciders have managed to evade the voters until the economy tanked. They had an unlimited supply of new growth property taxes to spend. Now they are trying to move the project forward with hat in hand with a bond election after the first of the year.
We are in a different economy, with virtually no new growth taxes to finance irresponsible behavior. They are using the local media to demonstrate the "dire need" for a new jail.
This week we had 17 inmates released from jail. Inmates were given the opportunity to plead guilty and had actually served more time than would have imposed for a sentence should they have been found guilty at a trial.
The little secret few of you know is lawyers, prosecutors and judges have a thing called "the local rule". It is used by both the defense and prosecution to resolve low level misdemeanor and felony charges. Local Rule works like this...the defendant is offered a deal (reads plea bargain) at their pretrial conference for a guilty plea. The defendant enters the plea and the judge sentences them to credit for time served, probation, court costs and a fine. Frequent flyer's at the jail know this and will not plead guilty at their arraignments. Meanwhile, you and I get to pay for their waiting days in our jail. They are in jail way longer than the amount of time someone who can bond out would ever get as a jail sentence.
Average jail sentences run about 18 days. We are dealing with societal screw-ups and mentally unstable people for the most part in county jails. They pose very little "criminal threat" to any of us.
To be clear, the coppers, prosecutors and courts do a great job of keeping dangerous people off the streets and know who these sociopathic threats are in our cities and counties. They work overtime to protect us from these creeps.
Solutions need zero in on treatment for addicts who are good candidates for recovery centers (think Ada County here) and group housing for those with manageable mental issues. Jails are expensive places to house these folks.
Finally, lets not forget about 100 or so empty work release center beds and more use of alternative sentencing. Work release was presented as a desperate need at the time it was built. We spent around $3 million on this facility and it was supposed to be full the day it opened several years ago. Let's not get oversold again.
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 11:17 AM