Do not be distracted by the discussion of California Cannabis Voice Humboldt that went on today at the County Board of Supervisor’s meeting. Realistically, nothing of import was said, either by the Board or CCVH representatives that we haven’t heard before.
THC thinks you should be more focused on the Board’s discussion of applying for a $2o million grant in order to expand upon the services offered and the space available at the Humboldt County Jail. Of course, the current action item on the Board’s agenda is merely to hire a consultant to help formulate the proposal and the application for funds made available by the State – but it’s important for the Humboldt public to closely examine the intended purpose and associated cost of the proposed jail facility expansion.
As first reported by Will Houston over at the Times-Standard, “The proposed extension would create the Humboldt County Corrections Reentry Resource Center, which would include 44 new beds for a minimum security reentry program to prepare inmates for successful reentry into society.” The facility would also house a number of other facilities related to support and facilities for offenders seeking reentry to society.
Now, it’s undeniable that Humboldt is in desperate need of an answer to the issues created by our inability to house criminals and to address the issue of recidivism. THC thinks that the proposed facility could potentially provide a part of that solution.
However, the proposal also raises some eyebrows with the fact that construction of the facility would require a County expenditure of $1.6 million dollars. Our county is already hugely in debt. Should we be considering options that significantly increase our debt burdens?
Before you answer that, consider this: the estimated cost of staffing and operating the facility is $1.3 million for the first year alone. So we, as a county, would be out $2.9 million for a single year. We already have a staffing crisis in terms of correctional officers in our jail. Will creating a need for 20 more officers truly be the appropriate answer to our crime and jailing crisis?
The consultation report alone will cost $39,500, but we are tempted to believe that cost is worth it. There’s no denying that the construction of the proposed jail facility would make an impact on one of the most commonly decried problems here in Humboldt, and from a human perspective, may be of huge help in supporting criminals and offenders who would not be as big of a burden on our County if given appropriate help.
But the underlying question remains: can we afford it?
Let us know what you think, THC fans.