The Champaign County Board continues to consider proposals to spend millions of dollars on jail building and renovation and plans to increase local taxes to pay for this.
We believe the county must change its priorities. Tax revenues should fund preventive services, facilities, and programs that will keep people out of jail. These include: mental health services, substance abuse treatment, pretrial services, re-entry programs for people returning home from prison, youth job training, and measures to address the disproportionate number of African Americans and low-income people in the jail population. This shift in priority would reflect national and state efforts to reduce incarceration and affirm our belief that everyone in the county deserves to be treated with dignity.
We believe the board and other elected officials should work with the whole community to make these alternatives to incarceration a reality.