Monday, July 10, 2006

Now that we know you're paying for it...

Paging through the old emails this morning, I found a story from the Muscatine Journal I had sent myself so I would remember to write about it. I promptly forgot. It happens.

Anyway, in case you didn't read it, here's the gist of the story. Louisa County is getting a new jail. On November 7, while voters in Wapello are choosing between Chet Culver and Jim Nussle, they'll also vote on a 1-cent sales tax to be used to pay for said jail. When I first read that, I thought, "Here's a real opportunity for criminal justice advocates. Vote no on the sales tax, and if it fails Louisa County will be forced to rethink who it imprisons." Then I read the last line:

Supervisors said if the bond referendum does not pass, the jail costs would probably have to be paid for through property taxes.

So now it's a different matter altogether. Louisa County is getting a new jail, it's just a question of who will pay for it. And who should?

I feel like three arguments all make sense here, let me see if I can do them all justice:

Everyone should. The jail should be paid for through a sales tax, ensuring that everyone who needs the jail, and even some out-of-towners who don't, pay a share of it's construction costs.

Those who can afford to should. Property taxes should be used for the jail, as owners of larger properties are more likely to have the resources to pay for the jail.

No one should. The need for a new jail is a sign of the failings of our criminal justice system. We should halt the construction of new jails and instead re-evaluate who we're sending to them.

Which answer do you agree with? Vote in the poll on your right. I'll publish the results on Monday and post a new poll.


1 comment:

Nicolai Brown said...

First of all, if there's no victim, then there's no crime. Many of the so-called crimes on the books have no victims. The major set of laws responsible for Prison Planet USA is the "drug war."

Thing is, the illegalization of drugs is what creates its associated violence and criminal activity. Compare the marijuana market with alcohol -- do "beer dealers" take part in violence? (Nope, only beer drinkers, unlike pot smokers who are too relaxed to hurt people.)

It's not a question of who should be forced to pay for prisons, but what "crimes" have victims and therefore require attention.

Stop prosecuting victimless crimes and a lot of prisons could be emptied and used for constructive purposes, instead of Criminal Education and KKK recruiting.