Amy Glasser guest writes this article.
I have recently declared my intention to run for a seat on the Whatcom County Council. One of the issues motivating me is that 55% of Whatcom County’s budget is comprised of “Law and Order” dollars and there seems to be a continuing push by some county officials to build a “mega-jail” even though it has been rejected by citizen referendum.
In an effort to learn more about our county’s incarceration needs, I recently requested and was given a tour of the existing jail facility. During the tour, I was informed that twenty years ago inmates with mental health problems were confined to the uppermost of the jail’s three floors. Today, that population occupies every floor. As a social worker with thirty-eight years’ experience, it is painfully obvious to me that our jail has become a fiscally inefficient and morally reprehensible repository for many of our county’s mentally ill. […]