For your consideration.
(Notes and references below.)
This is a reprint (with her permission) of a comment by Whatcom County Exec candidate Joy Gilfilen on social media that I thought was a great summation of the larger issues surrounding the proposed county jail project:
“I do not think this is party politic as much as it is the degenerative passion of an imploding prison industry…and we have to do the work to pull us out of the down-spiral.
Wednesday night at the League of Women Voters meeting, the speaker from Seattle who has been working on these kinds of issues validated everything that the Coalition has been testifying and writing to the County Council, the County Executive, Mayors and Councilmen.
1) No Needs Assessment and no SWOT analysis to base this project on…there is no fiscal basis, no analysis of market trends. The County Executive continues to say there is one, yet has not produced it for the Jail Task Force, for the Council, nor upon request by the Restorative Community Coalition. Why not?
2) The prison industry has spiked and is in a downward trend now, so it is unwise to build a prison for the past, rather than one that reflects the future. This is the opposite of the (county) Executive Branch actions.
3) Over-criminalization is a problem in Whatcom County…with our Prosecutor in charge of the capacity to change it, the Sheriff has the ability to change it, the judges can change the overcrowding issues…all by simple bureaucratic actions. He was very clear that the roots of the problem with excessive incarceration is right here, right now. This is a locally controlled issue – and we were delighted to be second voiced by a man of this caliber. This flies in the face of what the Executive Branch (Louws) has been telling the Council on record.
4) He reiterated the stats provided by the Prosecutors a few weeks ago…that major crime has dropped 25 % in Whatcom County in the past few years. And that juvenile arrests are down about 80% in that same period of time. So why do we need to plan for expansion, when the stats clearly show a dramatic downturn? Furthermore, why are the jail bed stays/days increasing? He stopped short of saying that this might be an administratively created crisis. What he did recommend was to look at what they are doing in Spokane to bring a community coalition together with the Smart Justice banner.
All of this is true, and yes, this is happening on our watch. And it is time to stop the games of politics, and get down to solid business analysis…and on that level it fails also. More later…I gotta go.”
The comment (above) was in response to some back and forth on her original social media post commentary on the Herald article Bellingham council’s resistance casts doubt on jail plan
‘So the Executive says, “the county is likely to ask for something like a 20 cent per $1,000 property tax hike in 2016 to fund emergency medical services.” My gosh, where does he think this money is coming from? This is why it is critical to not put this ballot up to the voters – and to give the public time to find and propose alternatives.’
The comments references to the related Smart Justice meeting of the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County can be found on their website, along with a pdf of the meeting PowerPoint which I’ll also link here. SmartJusticeFairJustice – Cook
The incarceration reference information that was cited during the meeting presentation are found here. Smart Justice Fair Justice Incarceration data.
The exec and the sheriff are not presenting the full picture. They are presenting a terribly slanted view that not-so-coincidentally backs up their claims. Please share this information because a complicit local media that seems bent on backing anything the exec and the sheriff say are unlikely to present any of this information to you.