Jailhouse Not

The United States has one of the highest incarceration rates of industrialized nations in the world. Hamilton County has one of the highest incarceration rates in Ohio. Clearly, the solution to these problems is to build more jails. Not.

Let's ignore the fact that the 15-year tax would raise $736 million in tax revenue, one of the largest single increases in funding for county government programs. Let's ignore the fact that the estimated amount for direct construction of the new 1800-bed jail is $239,428,594, which is over $133,000 per bed, or more than the $128,300 median price of a home in the county.

Assuming that those ridiculous amounts of money would be okay if there in fact was a jail problem, the question remains: is there a jail problem?

In 1999, 37 percent of the county's jail population were not serving out sentences. They were awaiting trial. In 2006, that same figure rose to 81 percent. Currently, people who are ultimately acquitted spend twice as many days in jail as those who are ultimately found guilty. 70 percent of inmates are repeat visitors. Isn't prison supposed to be rehabilitative? Hamilton County does not offer specialty courts such as a drug court, domestic violence court, or night court to improve efficiency.

The county is losing population, yet the county needs more jails? Something doesn't add up. I think I'll vote no on the jail tax, and you should too.

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