Where is a good spot for a jail in a town?
Certainly, not just off the main drag, next to the chamber of commerce and across the street from a bank.
Although, if said bank was robbed, the perpetrators could be handed a Darwin Award with their sentence.
It is just plain odd to have the county jail next to the organization that is in the business of telling tourists how awesome a place the Rim Country is to visit and live. And, I have thought so since I began commuting up the hill to work in ‘98.
I can hear someone muttering, "Well Carol, the jail located there did not stop your move from Mesa to Payson."
The fact that there is a jail located on Main Street, is outweighed by the beauty of the countryside (despite the drought) the people I have met (well, 99.9 percent of them) and the air quality (undisputed).
There has been serious talk of expanding county facilities, including the jails, for at least six months by local politicians and public servants.
Here are my two cents before the issue even gets far enough for a bond.
I would not care to see the jail expand north or west of where it now sits; as I think seeing prisoners dressed in orange jumpsuits is an eyesore.
Frankly, I would rather see a couple more homeowners, people who are spending some of their hard-earned money locally, get water rights for their property, than use my tax dollars to pay for a few more prisoners to shower in the shadow of the Mogollon Rim.
Further, if we keep sending prisoners to Globe, I promise not to squawk if I ever have to drive down there for jury duty.
If the jail were expanded north or west of where it sits, then the county offices would have to be moved as well. Where would they go?
And, I would lay fair odds proprietors of Bonanza Square businesses, as well as those on Main Street, would be none too thrilled at the prospect of the jail expanding to their property lines.
Unless, Peggy's Payson Place wants to corner the market on orange jumpsuits.
I do not have any better idea of where to relocate the jail, because no business or residence probably wants it any closer.
I did hear of a restaurant called "The Jailhouse" in the big ol' state of Texas.
Perhaps they would share their moniker for a price.
I can think of menu items for a restaurant that once held criminals, such as:
Handcuffed Eggs $2.99
(two eggs over easy)
Plea Bargain Burger $3.89
(Vegetarian hamburger on a bun, with secret sauce.)
Taser Wings 4 for $1
(Hot! Hot! Hot! Buffalo Wings!)
Maricopa Joe Special
(Bologna sandwich, hold the nutrients. Comes with a pair of souvenir pink boxer shorts for an extra sawbuck.)
Such a restaurant would add color and flavor to a street many people in Payson have worked hard to spark as a tourist destination.
How about converting the jail to an antique store? The store would specialize in items once owned by famous criminals?
Better yet, why not convert the jail to an art gallery?
I bet there are government or philanthropic funds to start an art program for prisoners.
At The Orange Gallery (or possibly Artists of the Stripe), prisoners could sell the creative results of their labor. A portion of the money would be the prisoners' to save to start a better life once they got out, or support their families while locked up. Prisoners might even use their art proceeds to pay restitution to their victims.
While I am on the subject of rehabilitation, is there any reason why prisoners could not take care of the abandoned stray dogs and cats?
What if the jail and the humane society were built back to back?
According to Pathways to Hope, the prison dog programs they sponsor "help inmates learn how to become "other" centered, thus giving something back to society. The inmates learn needed skills in order to help them get jobs when they are released. They also learn responsibility, patience, tolerance, as well as being good trainers with kindness and love."
Taking care of a scruffy hound would certainly be more rewarding to all concerned than washing an SUV.
Animals teach us to love and care for a being beyond ourselves.
Love, especially the unconditional love a dog gives the hand that feeds it, is an amazing, underrated feeling.
So is a cat's purr when it settles in a human lap.
"We must have new jail facilities," Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin wrote in a Dec. 6 article for the Roundup.
There is no easy solution.
The 13 members of the jail committee have their work cut out for them.
I hope the jail leaves Main Street to the tourists and those who love them.