I recently toured our Lewis and Clark County jail to see for myself whether we really need the jail levy that will be on this fall’s ballot. The current jail was built to accommodate 54 beds, but now averages a daily census of at least 90, with other inmates being transported to out-of-county facilities at additional cost to the county because of overcrowding.

Setting aside the inadequacy of the current facilities, what struck me most in the tour was the fact that law enforcement and detention officers have responsibility for far more inmates than is reasonable. This is a public safety hazard and creates a dangerous situation for our law enforcement.

Lewis and Clark County law enforcement does an admirable job given the resources they have, but they are clearly pushed to the max. I am willing to pay a bit more on my tax bill to support law enforcement and provide for public safety with a properly staffed facility because I know it will pay off in spades over the long-term. I encourage you to sign up for a jail tour and see for yourself and then to vote YES for justice and YES for the jail levy.

Abigail St. Lawrence

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Helena

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