Viewpoint: Let’s make a stand on our priorities

The Larimer County Sheriff and Larimer County Commissioners have been promoting their proposal for a new tax to fund the Larimer County Jail. We’d like to shed light on this topic.

• The proposed tax more than doubles funding for criminal justice operations! In 1997, the voters approved two sales taxes each for 0.2 percent totaling 0.4 percent. They approved an investment of 0.25 percent to construct buildings for the county. At the end of 2012, the buildings will be paid for. The remaining 0.15 percent was designated to fund the operating expenses of the jail. This Ballot Issue asks the citizens of Larimer County to approve a repeal of the two sales taxes passed in 1997 and to replace them with a sales tax of 0.375 percent. These funds would be entirely devoted to operating the criminal justice system. This increase from 0.15 percent to 0.375 percent more than doubles the funding from sales tax.

Submitted by Jail is Not the Answer, Fort Collins

• Criminals convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape, and burglary are housed in state prisons. No increase in space in the county detention facility will result in an increased capacity to imprison serious offenders.

• Many people housed in the Larimer County Detention Center are awaiting trial there because they can not make bail. Excessive bail is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. An evaluation of bail policies in Larimer County is overdue and should be conducted before any additional funding is approved for the Larimer County Jail.

• Many who have served time in the Larimer County Detention Center have become repeat offenders. The system is creating a class of people who cycle in and out of jail and fail to become productive residents.

• Crime rates nationally and locally have fallen in recent years and are projected to continue to decline.

Let’s make a stand on our priorities as a community. We can do better for the less fortunate portion of our population than locking them up.

A forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Ben Delatour Meeting Room of the Main Library, 201 Peterson St. in Fort Collins to allow both sides of the issue to state their positions. The sheriff
and commissioners will engage opponents of the funding measures in discussing the issues.

Please look at the facts and make an informed decision on your ballot.

Jail Is Not the Answer
Fort Collins
Fort Collins

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