Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jul 2004
Source: Racine Journal Times, The (WI)
Copyright: 2004, The Racine Journal Times
Author: Joyce L. Anderson
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)


What do you think of when you think of Racine? Its beautiful lakefront,
multicultural festivals, rich heritage, bike trails, galleries and theaters,
affordable housing, participatory government... kringle?

Or do you think of the community with the largest jail in relation to
arrests in the state, a youthful offender prison plus a prison in
Sturtevant, and a new probation/parole facility?

Why does Racine need more jail space?

Does Racine have an unusually large criminal population? Or is Racine victim
of a "lock'em up" mentality?

Many other communities with similar demographics as Racine have lower
incarceration rates and spend less on their criminal justice system.

Some of these same communities are being creative, using drug courts,
treatment programs and other alternatives to incarceration. Besides being
cost effective, these programs can actually address the root causes of why
people are committing crimes.

They can begin to rehabilitate people and prepare them for lives as
law-abiding citizens.

It is obvious, and well-documented, that incarceration does not prevent
crime. After listening to and reading Dr. Latessa and the recommendations of
the Citizens Criminal Justice Task Force, I strongly believe we need to look
at who makes up our jail and prison population. We need to assess the needs
and risk factors of each person before simply locking them up. Using their
strengths and addressing their needs and weaknesses, we can work towards
lowering the recidivism rate in our system.

I urge the County Board to think creatively, to follow the recommendations
of the task force and to be a force behind truly addressing the needs of
those who find themselves in our criminal justice system.

In the long run, I believe we will promote a healthier, safer community, one
we can be proud of.

Joyce L. Anderson 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh