August 10, 2007 - Spokesman-Review (WA)
LTE: Watson Should Sort Own Garbage
Taking advantage of jail overcrowding, Kootenai County Commissioners boast they'll put prisoners to work sorting recyclable materials from collected garbage (S-R, 8/09/07, B3).
Sheriff Rocky Watson wants a new jail constructed next to the about-to-be-built garbage transfer station.
Unexpected population growth, a nearly full landfill and voters' reluctance to support more jail construction paid for by sales or property tax increases are challenges Watson and Commissioners hope to meet by freely exploiting the slave labor of incarcerated people.
Instead of fretting over full landfills, however, Idaho leaders would earn long-lasting public respect by drafting source-reduction laws and policies that discourage manufacture and distribution of useless packaging and products overwhelming landfills.
Similarly, overcrowding of jails and prisons is deliberate policy.
Governments at any time can increase or decrease the rate of arrest and prosecutions.
Overcrowding is an excuse to justify greater appropriations, increased taxes and unnecessary new lockups.
Criminal justice careerists pitch overcrowding's evils because they ordinarily sell easily to unwary voters.
Kootenai County residents haven't been buying fear mongering and likely won't the next time they're asked to underwrite multimillion-dollar contracts for building another monument to failure.
Visit www.nonewprisons.org to learn why Sheriff Watson should clean up his own garbage.
Chuck Armsbury, Colville, WA