Pubdate: Mon, 08 Aug 2005
Source: Journal Times, The (Racine, WI)
Copyright: 2005 The Journal Times
Author: Connie Hohlfeld Molbeck
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


I am amazed at the lack of public outcry over the county's plans to spend 
more than $20 million on a jail expansion when we already have a greater 
percent of our population incarcerated than any city in the state, 
including Milwaukee. With all the public furor over any increase in school 
district spending, and cuts in all quality of life services such as the 
zoo, public library, and health care coverage, how can we even think this 
kind of spending can be good for our community?

The SAFER Network which has brought together a coalition of concerned 
citizens from Racine Taxpayers, Racine Interfaith Coalition and other 
groups has provided the county with numerous alternatives to incarceration 
for nonviolent criminals. Joe Kivlin's excellent commentary on Aug. 5 
outlined the drug court option. For those delinquent on child support ... 
find them a job and garnishee their wages. How can they pay in jail? 
Milwaukee County has a day reporting system which focuses on the services 
inmates need including drug and alcohol counseling, job skills, and 
parenting classes, to help people pull their lives together and become 
contributing members of society in ways a jail sentence could never do.

All of these alternatives cost money, but far less than expanding the jail 
and then hiring the staff to cover the expansion. Furthermore, they have a 
much higher success rate of keeping people out of the legal system after 
release. I hope all citizens concerned about wasteful spending of tax 
dollars will call your county supervisor insisting this project not move 
forward without a referendum, and asking them to set up alternatives to 
incarceration for nonviolent offenders.

Connie Hohlfeld Molbeck

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