Just back from the un debate, and there were no real surprises. Sometimes during the talks, it almost seemed that the two sides were discussing different issues. Judge Kent’s illustration that the system was like a cup, and the courts like holes was a good bit of information. The idea is, that the cup is overflowing, and that more courts would speed up the flow, and alleviate the overflow.
The troubling part of the argument from the vote yes group was the continued implication that the over cost for housing inmates in other counties was $45.00 as opposed to the actual dollar or so. Every time this is mentioned incorrectly, someone loses more credibility.
I don’t think anyone doubts that there is a need for a new jail at some point in time. I do believe that most people think that Smith county needs to work on the over incarceration problem before doing so. It was mentioned by one questioner that one of the AIC people was back in jail, this was quickly answered with the fact that there are always some that slip through and return, from probation, from prison, and from jail. Even Sheriff Smith said that many of the people in the jail are there on return visits. It seems to me that that in itself is an indictment of the system, and that the alternative programs seem to be working better than the incarcerex solution. The way we have been doing things is not working, time to try another method.