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Letter: Many valid reasons to reject new Pierce Co. Jail

 The word is that the Pierce County Board is planning to build a new jail? Bad idea!

Last time the idea was floated it was defeated. Later, most board members breathed a sigh of relief because the downturned economy could have bankrupted the county.

I served on the Pierce County Board for eight years, was on finance, personnel, and law enforcement committees.

We always rejected building a new jail because it was cost ineffective. Pierce County is not a growing county with increasing tax base.

Most important, even if it could build an $18,000,000 jail and bond for it, increasing the tax burden on every taxpayer in the county, the county cannot afford the yearly operating costs.

Mark Schroeder, former Pierce administrator, did a study and the cost of boarding prisoners in Dunn and Pepin is always cheaper than building a jail.

If you build a jail then programming, required additional staff and new risk requirements will automatically double or triple operating costs.

Our jail is old and inadequate but grandfathered in.

Our county board has hired a self-promoting jail building firm to do a study. The federal government provides such studies for free.

Surrounding counties that built new jails all operate in the “red” and are not at full or projected capacities.

We need to adopt cost saving and effective alternatives other counties do — diversion, restorative justice, electronic monitoring, risk-based assessments, prisoner boarding. Wisconsin is going to “evidence based practices” versus building new jails.

Lastly: Land bought quite a while ago for a new jail was found unsuitable and cost prohibitive for a jail.

Just because the interest rate is low doesn’t mean we can all buy a new house that we cannot afford!