September 2, 2016 Joy Gilfilen
I am delighted that we are, nationwide, are finally getting bigger press for the injustices in our jails. It seems to be systemic failures and the problem is getting identified.
I have found that in Whatcom County, there are people experiencing the same kinds of medical and health problems from lack of the responsible administration in taking care of inmates. And this is not because of overcrowding caused by crime. It seems to be disrespect and disregard by staff, led by poor management and failures inside our administrative systems.
Our Coalition has filed a report that identifies 15 ways that our inmates are being mistreated and the jail overcrowded…and still there has been no discovery on the problem, and no answer from the Executive branch nor by our Council.
Instead, while the County has passed three taxes since 1999 to solve the problems, and while the County has taken in the money to fix the overcrowding problems…they have chosen to instead continue their current practices.
Research shows how this regime has been violating state laws for years now. They are consistently over-criminalizing, over-prosecuting, and complaining of the overcrowding of the facility. They have not been willing to acknowledge our reports, and they continue to avoid examining their past practices.
Yes, the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force is trying to get things done – and the City of Bellingham has been making strides to reduce the overcrowding, as has the Lummi Nation. Yet, the administrative leaders continue to balk at true self-examination.
The Sheriff, the Prosecutor, and the Executive continue to give lip service, but are not willing to look at the Prosecutorial and Executive and Administrative privileges they have for improvements. Instead their seem to be continuing to block any true alternatives from being implemented that would in fact reduce the incarceration rates in the first place. Why?
Instead, these officials continue their high pressure drive to force the construction of a new jail and the expansion of their industry.
It seems that we need more voices clamoring for better administration, not more incarceration. Law and order in charge of jails is an injustice to justice.