Marion County Commission revealed Monday that it was negotiating to purchase property east of the courthouse.
Members of the commission didn’t say what the property was to be used for — maybe a parking lot, maybe office space — but we can only hope it will be considered for a new jail.
The property across from the courthouse was not necessarily my first choice when discussions about a new jail began nearly a decade ago.
I lived on South Fourth Street, half a block from the jail, for nearly 10 years. Although I never gave it much thought when I lived there, I didn’t like the idea of children playing near or passing by the jail for predators and other undesirable people to watch. However, a new facility would not have the same luxury for inmates as the current jail — there wouldn’t be any windows to the outside world.
The idea of transporting inmates from jail at a remote location in town to the courthouse for court hearings does not appeal to me. It makes the most economic sense to have the jail in close proximity to the courthouse.
Actually, if a jail is built where the former lumberyard is located, it would be somewhat isolated from the “neighborhood.” There aren’t any residences in close proximity and it would still be within walking distance of the courthouse.
Nobody wants to spend millions of dollars on a jail but this county cannot afford not to build a new facility. We’ve been skating on thin ice for a long time — dodging state fire marshal’s findings and delaying decisions about housing inmates.
The commission is not the only ones responsible for this delay — we are to blame if we voted against any kind of change.
If a new facility isn’t in the cards, then the decision needs to be made to ship our prisoners to another facility with another set of problems and expenses.
Let’s get behind the commission and tell them what we think. Let’s give them definitive direction.
It’s time to make a decision.
— Susan berg