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New Jails Don't Address Policy, Can Lead to 'Buyer's Remorse'

Emmett Sanders, who does advocacy and policy work for the Prison Policy Initiative argues in this opinion piece that, often, policy problems will not be resolved by building a new jail. Sanders cites an example, in Arapahoe County, Colorado, where the sheriff is building a $46 million jail expansion, citing the jail’s age, overcrowding, and the need to treat rather than warehouse people with addiction issues. (Also, Sanders notes, a big share of the pricetag -- $30 million -- will come from COVID-19 pandemic relief, a use of the relief funds that the ACLU decries, saying that the use is expressly forbidden by the Department of Treasury.)

Sanders breaks down similar arguments used to justify jail construction. "Often, this means ignoring voters’ wishes, misusing and redirecting millions of dollars from community-based resources, and saddling citizens with decades of tax liability," he writes, noting that "reinvesting in cages is not a solution to social problems like crime and substance use."


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