The county commission is making a serious mistake to think any further about expanding Silverdale, the Hamilton County jail.
Last week it turned down a bid for F$20 million on account of the bidder’s not having experience of large scale projects. On Wednesday it overcame its hesitation, and voted to grant authority to sign the contract committing the taxpayers to more infrastructure.
The vote shows the power of the psychology of previous investment, making it difficult for members to see large-scale changes in geopolitical circumstances adverse to earlier investment.
For three reasons Hamilton County should not expand cell space and by more tons of concrete and steel for keeping men and women in isolation and punishment.
Prospect of municipal bankruptcy
The economy is strongly contracting as the monetary base is collapsing over the nonpayment of debt and a growing liquidation spurred by the CV-19 government attack on the marketplace. The meltdown comes amid a longstanding problem. Across the U.S., cities and counties have played a foolish game of financial investment in infrastructure for which no ROI, or return on investment, is calculated. The rising inability to pay the debts for this infrastructure comes nearer with the national liquidation, the pace of which increased in March.
The municipal red-ink analysis first emerged in 2011 in the “growth Ponzi scheme” essays by civil engineer Chuck Marohn at Strongtowns.org. The tax base in Hamilton County has not risen enough to pay for maintenance of its existing commitments, and taxpayers won’t allow rates to go much higher. New jail space is a terrible, terrible investment with only negative return, or losses, with infrastructure abandonment and bankruptcy the only prospect in the outyears of the crisis.
Growing disrepute of incarceration
Perhaps commission members haven’t noticed. Since the Ferguson riots August 2014, the national mood has turned strongly against the police-judicial-industrial complex. Prisons are overbooked, and profit-based prisons are increasingly in disrepute. So is policing and the incarceration business. Interest is growing in alternatives to prosecution, jail, prison, probation and punitive measures, and protests on behalf of blacks, the leading victims of cops and prisons, giving growing voice or abolition, starting with municipal police.
Hamilton County needs no new jail; it should consider stanching the flow of bodies by toughly regulating the police trades, which routinely violate constitutional rights and black-letter law protecting due process.
Injustice, immorality of prison
Two wings of Christianity clearly condemn prisons and the incarceration industry. That is the liberal and social-gospel wing which otherwise is sympathetic to socialism and state hegemony of American life. The other is the neo-Puritan or Christian reconstruction wing, which much more powerfully argues that prisons are anti-Christ. Imprisonment denies relief for the victim, which in scripture is the party for which justice must be served. Prisons prevent restitution to victim or restoration of the offender in a person-to-person judicially overseen context.
Expanding the county jail condemns the Christian thesis of redemption and restoration as a crock and a fraud. Christians and others of goodwill should decry the $20 million project and ask the vote be rescinded. Gary North’s primer on justice is Victim’s Rights, here a free PDF download. https://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/2146_47e.htm