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Why spend millions on new jail cells?

Why do we need to spend 8 million dollars of our money to add 100 cells to our jail? Since our jail was opened in 2005, our population has only increased by 131 people. One of our Commissioners told me we need more cells since we are making more arrests for drugs. Why? One thing we have learned from the last 30 years is that locking addicts up does not solve their problems. They get out, return to their addiction and get rearrested and now all they are doing is filling up our jail. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

That is what we are doing. And now, out leaders are proposing to spend 8 million of our dollars so they can continue this insanity. Deidre Howell, a very smart local businesswoman, has recommended this money be spent on a mental health facility. Now that would be money well spent.

If our leaders must have more cells, determining this should be easy. Just show us how many prisoners from the jurisdiction of Rabun County were being housed at the end of each month for, say, the last twelve months and for what crimes. This calculation should not include any prisoners from Habersham County, Stephens County, etc. We should not be spending $8 million of Rabun County money to house prisoners from other jurisdictions.

No one I have talked to has heard anything about a need for more cells. I talked to one person who had spent over two hours talking to the Sheriff about the state of his office and he never mentioned the jail. If you look at our comprehensive plan that was created less than four years ago, it never mentions the jail either. This seems to be a solution in search of a problem.

It almost appears that the County Commissioners needed a Tier One project for the upcoming SPLOST so they did not have to give what they consider too much money to the cities. I doubt they would stoop that low, but the way they have handled this makes you wonder.

Pete Cleaveland, Tiger