Scott County Supervisors spent about $25,000 last year to determine how big a jail they might build. The findings were presented to the board at a "public" meeting held on a Tuesday morning, precluding most taxpayers from attending.
Noting sky-high recidivism rates and a staggering $10+ million annual budget to operate the jails we have now, Supervisor Ken Croken subsequently proposed the county study the expansion of programs — such as mental health and veterans courts, among others — to reduce the need to spend another $20 million to $30 million on bigger, more costly, jails.
Led by Chairman Tony Knobbe and Vice-Chairman Ken Beck, the board voted against it.
Croken later proposed a county proclamation to declare October "Juvenile Justice Action Month." The idea was to spark a public dialogue and explore alternatives to a 250% increase in juvenile detention space. Again, Supervisors Knobbe and Beck voted against it.
Then, Croken independently collaborated with our community-based Juvenile Justice Coalition to organize a public forum exploring alternatives to incarceration, including eye-opening expertise from across the nation. Nearly 150 citizens came to listen and learn. Unfortunately, neither Knobbe nor Beck was among them.
Apparently, Knobbe and Beck have their minds made up. They want to spend taxpayer money building bigger jails, not reducing crime. That’s a failure of vision and leadership. Incarceration does little to reduce crime. It may even be counter-productive. Let’s invest in public safety programs that work: prevention, enforcement and rehabilitation. We need solutions, not spending.
Jane I. Duax, Member
Juvenile Justice Coalition of the Quad Cities