WHY SHOULD WE REJECT 2017-6?

Not only is jail expansion immoral, it is also bad business and a bad deal for Whatcom County tax payers.

Whatcom County citizens already pay taxes to fund public safety. What we currently have to show for our investment is a poorly run facility that is fraught with waste and mistreatment, one that prioritizes money collection and profit over improving community and restoring lives. We believe the money already exists to renovate the current jail and to focus on true rehabilitation for inmates. 

 

Jail expansion means increasing taxes, increasing prison capacity, and increasing the number of citizens who will be jailed to meet that capacity. History has shown that if the cages are built, they will be filled.

TEN REASONS TO REJECT THE NEW JAIL TAX 

1. THE TAX IS TOO BIG

We already pay an extra .3% sales tax (in addition to property and other taxes) to our government for public safety, behavioral health, and criminal justice. Additionally, these taxes are regressive, taking money directly out of the disposable incomes of our most vulnerable taxpayers and handed to government for expansion of facilities as well as to pay to banks, insurance companies and jail contractors.  

 

This is money taken directly out of local circulation, to the detriment of citizens and the small businesses community of Whatcom County. In 2016 alone, this .3% sales taxes netted $15.7 Million (Source: the WA State Department of Revenue).

 

This current tax revenue is more than enough to maintain and fix our two current jails, and more sensible spending could cover humane alternatives to mass incarceration and crime prevention.

2. THE JAIL IS TOO BIG

The proposed jail costs almost twice as much as the recently opened Skagit County jail for basically the same number of beds. Given that our neighbors now have 200 beds to lease out, we don’t need to build any bigger to end overcrowding.

3. NO RULES ON HOW THE MONEY IS SPENT

Although the county has collected about $40 million from a previous 2004 tax, we don’t have much to show for it, and there’s no guarantee built into this measure that funds will be spend more responsibly than before.

4. ALTERNATIVES AREN'T GUARANTEED

Despite what some politicians claim about funding for alternatives, programs to reduce and prevent incarceration will not receive a penny of funding until all capital costs for building the megajail are covered.

5. INCARCERATION WILL INCREASE

The jail tax will lead to doubling the incarceration capacity of Whatcom County, a rate of increase much larger than our current population is growing. As the history of other facilities has shown: if they build the cages, they will fill them. 

6. NEGATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Not only will this jail dramatically increase the number of car trips taken between downtown Bellingham and Slater Road each day, but also the planned facility is not LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified like every other county facility built in the last 20 years.

7. RACIAL INJUSTICE WILL INCREASE

Whatcom County incarcerates Native and African American people at almost ten times the rate of white people, creating disproportionate impacts on already marginalized communities and sending a negative message about attitudes in the area.

8. BAD LOCATION

The proposed Labounty Road site is a former tannery next to a trash dump that sits on a series of wetlands connected to the Tennant Lake Open Space. It should not be developed for anything, much less a home for several hundred people.

9. CONSEQUENCES OF RELOCATION

Removing the current jail from downtown Bellingham will drive business away from the area and create a complicated series of commutes for employees, the accused, inmates, and their families.

10. BAD GAMBLE ON OUR FUTURE

Increasing the sales tax to this level not only imperils the future security of our public employees’ pensions, it also locks us into operating an expensive and overbuilt facility located far from the current core. We can leave a better legacy than that!

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TAKE ACTION: REJECT PROPOSITION 2017-6

Reporting by Julliette Daniels (Licensed Attorney), by David Camp (CPA), and by Tip Johnson (Journalist). Visit Northwest Citizen to read their comprehensive reporting on this issue and to review the facts that prove Proposition 2017-6 is a bad deal for local tax payers.

  • Sane Jail Now
  • No More Jails

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REJECT

prop 2017-6