This fall the voters will be asked to approve a Jail Bond for the operation of the Lewis and Clark County Jail, set to be remodeled using the proceeds from the bond levy which past last year.

These two levies go hand in hand. One, to remodel the existing jail, has already been approved. The second bond issue, which will be on the ballot this fall is to properly operate the remodeled jail, with programs to appropriately provide both safety for the community and mental health and other evaluations and treatment for individuals incarcerated in the facility.

Without new and innovative programs the county will continue to incarcerate individuals for lengthy periods of time awaiting disposition of their criminal case. With new programs, a good portion of these inmates should be able to be diverted into less expensive alternatives to incarceration. When this occurs, the county saves money in multiple ways. Supervised release is considerably less expensive than housing an individual in a jail. If individuals can be processed and released under supervision within three days, many people otherwise incarcerated will be able to retain employment and therefore housing and to keep families intact. This will allow them to remain independent. Otherwise the direct and indirect costs for an incarcerated individual will become an obligation of the county.

Voting for the Jail Levy this November is a wise and prudent way to save county funds while still protecting the public safety of the community.

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Ron Waterman

Helena

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