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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

4/26/14 DNR: "Officials Pursue Jail Plan"

Tonight's PBS program may help us rethink our approach

In light of last week's news that the Harrisonburg City Council and the Rockingham Board of Supervisors are creating a "community corrections plan" to qualify for state funding for more jail space, concerned local citizens need to become a part of a conversation about finding alternatives.

The city and county are investing $40,000 in the study, "which will consider various building solutions while also looking at ways to reduce incarceration numbers, such as alternative forms of sentencing". A site study that will look at possible locations for a new building is expected to cost another $60,000 to $120,000. The projected cost of building more space would be in the millions of dollars.

Money spent on a community corrections plan could be well worth it if it adds to the urgency of our finding better ways of making people accountable for making restitution for their crimes rather than simply creating more space to lock them away.

In the trailer introducing the PBS Frontline documentary "Prison State" being shown at 10 tonight the narrator makes the statement that "we need to distinguish between the people we are mad at and the people we are afraid of", and respond accordingly with what is more likely to actually correct offenders rather than merely punishing them.

The Arlington County Detention Center, in an urban area with a significantly larger population than ours, has seen its jail population actually decline in recent years. We hope the proposed study can look into how we might begin to see that happen here.

Here is a link to other posts on prison reforms.
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