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Letters, Nov. 26

Better proposal needed

Ashland and Medford city councils have delayed discussion of the jail service district and the Talent council voted no on the proposal that will cost taxpayers a billion dollars over 23 years for construction, operation and maintenance.

I support the concept of a new jail but prefer a comprehensive proposal that includes upstream diversion for mental health and addiction treatment, not only diversion opportunities once inside the jail.

If people can get into appropriate treatment on the front end rather than being incarcerated, jail size and taxpayer commitment should be reduced.

The Jackson County administration should engage in community dialogue and a vision process rather than prescribing the community an 800 to 896-bed jail (current nighttime capacity is 315) and associated service district for taxpayers as the only solution.

The county should listen to the Continuing Care Organizations (CCOs) and include their solutions for serving marginalized citizens.

The likelihood of voter passage of the current 23-year billion-dollar boondoggle is slim given the cost and that it would funnel all available capital for treatment of social needs into the jail only.

The county should genuinely engage with the community and create a proposal that works for everyone — one the voters will support.

Derek Volkart


Get it in writing

My, my, my, now that’s something you don’t see everyday in these parts. The editorial board of the local paper calling a city councilor from Ashland a liar.

The paper wants the elected official to state facts. The elected official is expressing opinions, positions and making an argument. The paper doesn’t like these opinions and arguments so attacks her. Strange times, indeed.

The fact of the matter is that without written commitments, under the structure of a service district, the county can, from opening day, lodge 800 “guests,” sell jail beds to the feds, other counties, and to cities, and provide zero services for mental health or drug addiction. And that’s a fact. We can trust our sheriff not to do these things, but he won’t be sheriff forever. Get it in writing before the upcoming vote.

Michael Bianca


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