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  • Writer's pictureJohn Sarna

Criminal Justice System Improvement Project (CJSI)

The Benton County Jail has many problems. A primary problem is it is chronically overcrowded and relies too much on the use of “citation and release,” resulting in many “failures to appear” in court. The Benton County CJSI project is meant to correct this and other pressing issues, but at a substantial cost - $152 to $213 million in capital costs and $8 to $11 million annually thereafter, as a bond measure which would have to be approved by voters. Three scenarios are proposed, (1) a “best practices” model, (2) a focus on investing in social services, and (3) a focus on accountability and in-custody treatment. My focus would be on scenario (3), accountability and in-custody treatment. I believe it appropriate to add in some services and following best practices, so long as the long-term goal is minimizing criminal behavior and the cost is reasonable.

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