Voice of the People: We do not need a new detention center

Published 9:34 am Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Don’t let it happen Boyle and Mercer County citizens. There’s talk in the wind about building a 450-bed monument to mass incarceration and injustice. We don’t need 450 beds, 350 or even 300 beds. Numbers in our detention center have for almost four years now been well below capacity. Use of Administrative Release and Release on Own Recognizance protocols have NOT caused any increase in violent crime locally.

As I watch our jail numbers once again surge to the 200-inmate count recently, a little reminder to our judiciary might be appropriate.

First, Substance Use Disorder is a medical problem. Decades of incarceration for those suffering same have only made things worse. Rehabilitate, not incarcerate.

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Second, Mental Illness really is an illness. What part of putting people who suffer so into jail makes any sense?

Lastly, poverty is not a crime. Putting our neighbors in jail because they cannot pay up is the real crime. Kentucky was the first state to abolish debtors prisons and yet right here we put them in jail for that very reason.

I do, however, believe we need a new modern facility. A 250-bed detention and treatment center with 50 of these beds and space dedicated to treatment and rehabilitation is warranted. Note the emphasis on treatment and rehab.

Perhaps it’s time to call upon Brandstetter Carroll for an update review report to supplement their last scathing review of our local judiciary.

— Roger Hartner, Danville