Sunday, November 04, 2007

Kuff: New jail building in Harris County "irresponsible to the point of negligence"

Kuff explains why he voted against Harris County's Proposition 3 allowing the county to issue debt for more jail building, criticizing the Houston Chronicle's endorsement of the measure:
As you know, I voted No on Prop 3. I strongly disagree with their stated logic here. What we need is smarter bail setting, better probation management, and just generally using our existing scarce resources more wisely. The Chron has done some excellent reporting on the overcrowding at Harris County's jails. It's a damn shame that the editorial board has chosen to wave its hands at the underlying causes for that overcrowding and endorse spending almost $200 million on new jail space that we shouldn't need. I'm sorry, but that's irresponsible to the point of negligence. Let's get our house in order first, then we can see if we really need to build.
I think that's exactly right. It's not like Harris County would be able to hire enough guards to staff a new jail, anyway. They can't adequately staff the facilities they've got. Indeed, Houston PD can't fill its trainee slots, and they pay more.

I hope other Houston voters are following Kuff's lead, and while they're at it vote against Proposition 4 on the statewide ballot that would finance new prison building.

Elsewhere, voters in three other counties, Smith, Brazos, and Howard, also decide Tuesday on proposals to issue new debt to finance more jail building. Of those, Howard really has no choice; the Commission on Jail Standards has pledged to shut down the current jail after decades of receiving annual variances, and the county is constitutionally required to operate one. In Smith, Brazos, and Harris Counties, though, voters should shoot down expensive proposals for new jail building, all of which would require immediate tax hikes, and insist their elected officials manage their jail populations better.

No comments: