We have two problems and one solution. Our Iowa City jail wants to expand. Our nearby post office wants to shrink. Logic says: Rent post office space to the jail.
A huge fraction of jail guests are low risk. They can live in open settings with limited supervision. Securing non-violent offenders in low-security open areas would be natural in the post office space. Upgrade costs can be minimal compared to building a new building.
This lease solution would make the current high-security jail available and adequate for closely supervised accommodation. We would have space for guests being shipped to other jails.
We may be able to profitably provide accommodations to overcrowded jails. Additional unused space in the post office building can be used for more courtrooms.
Savings with a post office solution can be mind-boggling. Even at an obnoxiously high rent of $1,000 a day for this space, it would take 110 years to equal the $40 million supposed cost of a replacement jail. Counting interest on the borrowed money, a new jail building would take a lot longer than 110 years to break even.
Obviously, the big loser would be the “build a new jail industrial complex,” obsessed with sucking-up tens of millions of our property tax bucks over multiple years for a new building our voters affirmed and then reaffirmed we don’t want.
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