Monday, November 8, 2010

Mayor Cites Taxpayer Costs and Conditions at the Jail as Drivers for Moving Jail Project Forward Now

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today issued the following statement reiterating plans to build a new jail at the current site:

“A modern and humane jail is critical for our City and is long overdue. We have given adequate attention and consideration to varying ideas for a jail. Now we must work against the city’s plans for a new jail being held hostage by competing political interests and indecisiveness. It was our duty to consider whether alternative proposals would likely save both time and money and we’ve done that. It is clear now that delay will only serve to cost taxpayers additional money and leave existing conditions in place that have for too long gone unaddressed.

“In order to improve safety and other conditions, a new jail has to be built as quickly as practicable. The current facility on Fairfield Way offers the clearest opportunity to build quickly and effectively. The fact that the city owns the land will keep costs down for the taxpayer and help avoid further scheduling delays. Additionally, the existing site avoids the need for any new environmental impact studies saving yet more costs and time and possible remediation expenditures that would be associated with a new site.

“When we began moving forward with plans for a new jail and a model for alternatives to incarceration over a year ago, we worked to ensure adequate opportunities for community input. We hosted three tours to other cities to research the operation of their facilities and programs, and the community has had an opportunity to offer input on the location of the jail through two budget cycles now. The City Council has voted affirmatively on the current site four times. The consideration of a variety of proposals has served to inform the decision about moving forward on the existing site and has underscored that the existing site is the most cost-effective and timely approach.

“What we must do now is continue to work to ensure that the new jail is not only an improvement for the population that it serves and the brave men and women who work there, but also for the surrounding community. The existing site will be approached in a way that improves the aesthetics of the community surrounding the jail. We envision the new facility having the appearance of an office complex and not a jail. There will also be no visible barbed wire fencing and the jail will be architecturally and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

“Finally, it is imperative that we readily pursue alternatives to the incarceration of nonviolent individuals. Alternative programming is to be implemented over the next two years while the jail is being constructed. These alternatives will ultimately move us forward with reducing the jail population and lowering the costs of jail operations.

“This Administration is serious about change and the need to develop comprehensive solutions to the challenges we face. This is not a time to further stall forward movement on this pressing need and we are confident that the existing site is the most workable site and in the city’s overall best interest.”

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