I’ve been a deputy at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office since 2001 and worked in the jail for five years. I can tell you first hand that need for a new jail is real. It was overcrowded then and, as we all know, still is.
I also can tell you the overcrowding is not due to drug offenses, victimless crimes and college students. What has changed is the increase in number of violent offenders and probation/parole violators. In 2001, Johnson County voters made it clear they had questions to be answered and alternatives to be pursued before approving a new jail. Since then, many of the questions have been answered and alternatives to incarceration have been implemented.
But our county’s population has increased by more than 16 percent over the past 10 years — from 111,006 in 2000 to 130,882 in the 2010 census. Unfortunately, criminal activity also has increased significantly. As a result, since 2000 we’ve sent nearly 8 million tax dollars to surrounding counties to house inmates that our jail can’t accommodate.
Also, our more than century-old courthouse wasn’t designed to serve our county’s current demands. The proposed expansion will provide much needed room to meet its increased demands, while providing a secure environment for everyone involved in the justice system.
The work has been done. Alternatives are in place. Questions have been answered. Please flip the ballot and vote yes for justice.
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