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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Portland's Wapato Jail Sits Empty Nearing 10th Year and No Inmates

THE GUARDIAN went on a search to see if the ill fated Wapato Jail in Portland ever got open for business.  Nearly ten years have passed and the $58,000,000.00 jail still sits empty.  It costs between $300 and $400 thousand dollars per year for this jail to sit empty.  This means Multnoma County taxpayers have spent $3.5 million just to keep the place mothballed.

Tax exempt bonds were issued on the project and will be paid off in 2016.  However, until that time the alternative uses for the jail remain limited.  County Commishes could reissue the bonds to nonexempt status but it would come with a bite to the county of an additional $1.5 million. 

We can all be thankful Canyon County is not sitting in the same situation had any one of the three bond elections for a new jail been approved.  Wapato and other prison projects all over the country are proving to be costly mistakes with no inmates and no money to staff, maintain and operate all of these poorly thought out projects.

Despite the tough on crime stance of the Idaho Legislature that continues to pay homage to keeping non-violent people behind bars for extended periods of time at huge costs to taxpayers crime rates all over the country continue to drop for adult and juvenile offenses. 

Wapato is a monument to a complete disregard for the costs of keeping people locked up that pose no threat to society.  We just wanted to give readers an update on this fiasco.  The good people in charge forgot about the costs to staff and maintain this ill-fated project.  The number were around $30 million a year just to staff the place.

Here's a link to the Oregonian story


  1. Those who can't learn hard lessons from others are doomed to repeat them. Amen to voters who shot down a new jail!

    1. The people here are getting wise to the local politicos agenda. Quite a few lawyers, judges, and others are making investments into the private prison, private justice, and corporate law for the chosen few program. What it boils down to is that the middle-class people of Canyon County don't want to have a private gulag constructed in their county.

  2. Does it not give you confidence in your law enforcement officials to know that all of the popo chiefs of the major cities in Canyon, as well as the Canyon County Prosecutor, and many, many others, were all pumping for that $70 million fiasco?

    1. I thought it was $40 Million, then $20 million then $12 million?

    2. The link to the Portland Oregonian story says to jail cost was $58 million on the issue of tax exempt construction bonds. Then comes the interest, underwriting and legal fees on top of the stated costs.

      In other stores in the Oregonian the cost to staff and maintain the facility annually was around $30 million. The bottom line is this is a demonstrated boondoggle use of public funds and in no measure is it chump change.

    3. Sorry I was referring to the 3 jail bond attempts. There was one for 12, 20 and 40 each if I remember correctly. The message seems pretty clear. No jail at any price! I think they are getting it now. They will just ask for an admin building and to move the fairtgrounds instead.

    4. Yes but no-one cares about the local bonds. This is about Portlands Wapato jail, not the cCanyon County Jail.

  3. So, Paul, now that it is three years past the last and failed jail bond attempt, how about some useful and insightful commentary about how our public safety would be compromised without the $70 Million facility?

    Remember all the articles in the Idaho Press, and pumping and pimping by Bujak and all of the Einstein popo chiefs of police, etc?

    1. Having worked in our local jail in the mid 1990's I observed first hand who was going to jail and it was indigent people for the most part who could not afford to bond out. The next observation was "officer discretion" was not used in deciding who went to jail and who did not; it was a blanket deal that everyone cited with a misdemeanor went to jail and if they stayed depended on their cash position to post bond.

      Crime rates are falling all over the country and my short answer to your question is put the right people in jail and in prison. Jails are Detention facilities not prisons. Prison is the place for convicted bad people and they ought not be let out until they figure out how to function in civil society.

      Another area of concern I observed was those on probation were routinely picked up for "violating their probation" no matter how insignificant the violation.

      Next, area is that of Domestic Violence: More often than not it is the male in a call for this problem who got hauled off to jail. I can't remember a single female who got jailed. Police intervention in this area means someone is going to jail. A more reasonable approach would be to have the individuals get away from one another for a few hours. Jail does not add any value to domestic relations and I hate to say it but the males generally were trying to defend themselves from their significant other but got hauled off to jail when the cops got involved.

      Put bad people in jail and prison and give the rest alternative sentencing. Jails have bred a whole cottage industry of "evaluators" and councilors who serve little or no real purpose. They simply got a law passed in the Legislature and are living off this section of the Idaho Code.

    2. Aww Paul,

      Screening out the people who destroy your BS claims with truth again I see. Get up to date on your facts and stop living in yesterday! Your experience 20 years ago is like comparing apples and oranges and has zero relevance with todays problems.

    3. Permit me to say this:

      Law enforcement is working extremely poorly in Canyon County, period. The popos cannot identify and apprehend and effectively prosecute the real criminals. They are too stupid, inept, incompetent, and worst of all, corrupt and intellectually bankrupt.

  4. You failed to comment about all the dire warnings from the local rag, popo chiefs, prosecutors, and so forth.

    Again, how have we gotten by for three years without it when so many of our law enforcement officials assured us that we desperately needed it.

    Augsburger, Bujak, and so forth.

    1. Ok, here is my response to your question. I found all the blather about the need for a new and bigger jail a serious misrepresentation of the facts. And to that end spoke out against all three jail bonds at the public forums sponsored by the local paper, on this blog and at every other opportunity.

      If any of the jail bonds had passed we would now be mired down in public debt pass with the full faith and credit of every property owner in this county and no way to have a "do-over".

      The first cries of dire need for more jail space started in 2006 with the erection of the "Tent Jail". It was wrong then and it is wrong now. Put the right people in jail, send them to prison and put the rest into alternative sentencing programs. That may mean we have public dollars spent on mental health facilities v. using jails for that purpose.

  5. Our local politicos are desperate for a new jail. The public needs to be aware of the desperate measures that they might try to do to acheive their agenda. The people need to make sure that the politicos do not find a way to build one without the peoples approval.

  6. Paul,

    I believe that you are on the right track here, for the most part. However, if you expect to get elected to the position that you aspire to, you had best develop a much stiffer spine than you appear to have at the present.

    After all, you will be wearing the big boy pants if you prevail.

    How about getting away from the pattsy and pansy and panty waste talk and discuss some real accountability issues in city and municipal government? And, if you decide that you can grow a set along with a real backbone, you had best be well prepared to ruffle a lot of feathers. Do you really think that you are up to it?

    I commend you if you are. But, if you are not, you will just be another big talker.


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