The jail in Jackson County, Oregon, can house 315 inmates. It stays full. County government has put on the May 19th ballot a measure that would authorize a 40% increase in the county property tax to fund a new facility that could house 896. South Mountain Friends Meeting has joined a coalition of grassroots organizations to oppose the measure. The Meeting sees this as an occasion to put into action Friends' call to end mass incarceration in the U.S.
Members of the coalition, named Real Solutions, united in opposition only after the failure of strenuous efforts to convince the sheriff, the county administrator and the county commissioners to draw up a plan that would include enhanced infrastructure to help the mentally disturbed and the chemically dependent. We maintain that mental illness and addiction--often overlapping afflictions--are challenges to public health, not criminal justice.
The coalition is not opposed to replacing the existing jail, which is physically deteriorated. Rather, we want the county to invest at least as much money in proven crime reduction strategies as in incarceration. If and when it presents such a measure to the voters, we will support it. Meanwhile, we expect to defeat the jail-only proposition.
from Herbert Rothschild, South Mountain Friends Meeting, Ashland, OR (3/15/2020)