Another Solution To The Crowded Jail Problem

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Editor:

After a dispiriting day yesterday, planning for more of the past, at a higher cost, a ray of hope appears. I think our county jails committee should take the Justice Center project seriously, and factor it into our projections of how many jail cells and courtrooms Gila County really needs.

As I see it, a minority of Puritans, of many conflicting flavors, have taken over our criminal justice system, under an umbrella banner of "It's the law."

Whatever the law of the moment is, it should be enforced like the Spanish Inquisition. Put them in jail and throw the keys away.

Finally someone, at the national level, has noted that the approach has resulted in the U.S. having one of the highest per capita imprisonment ratios in history, with a minimal effect on crime reports. Plus, it is getting expensive, and we really need the money for our next social experiment, whatever that may be.

Anyhow, the fact that someone is trying to find the most cost-effective way to deter crime is encouraging. Also, I predict it will be more successful than trying to control crime on the basis of the morals of whoever happens to be in charge.

I would guess that treating drug addiction as a disease rather than a crime would reduce our jail population more than any one change we can make. Note that I said drug addiction, not drug dealing.

Also it appears to me that the system is not differentiating in sentencing, but particularly in prison arrangements, between dangerous criminals, and, shall we say, casual criminals.

As public money gets in short supply and the taxpayer becomes more vocal about the lesser amount of his or her earnings available to spend, there is probably a change coming.

Even with immigrants, legal or illegal, we obviously do not have enough working people in the U.S. at the same time, we have millions in jail who aren't really dangerous to other people, who could be working, supplying us with goods and paying taxes, instead of being in jail at a cost per year equal to sending them to Harvard.

We will eventually come to our senses, and we won't have so many people in jail, and we somehow should factor this into our capital plans.

We don't want to compound our past errors by putting the citizens of Gila County in hock for new buildings that we won't need under a new enlightened justice system.

Dan Adams, Payson

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