Letters to the Editor

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MENTAL HEALTH: Costs at jail were predictable

Letter by Deborah Morton, Tacoma on Aug. 13, 2012 at 10:19 am with No Comments »
August 13, 2012 3:27 pm

Re: “Jail overtime bill skyrockets” (TNT, 8-12).

I am surprised at the Pierce County Council’s shock and dismay over the costs to run the jail 24/7. In the name of public safety, more police were hired; that equals more arrests. Lawmakers’ “tough on crime” stand means more who are arrested stay longer.

Thanks to Maurice Clemmons, there is no bail for felons before arraignment; they stay in jail. Then the state closes a wing of the mental hospital. Many of those folks end up in jail. They are a handful, from a custody point of view; I should know; I work there.

Not once during all the rhetoric about hiring more police did anyone talk about associated costs to house and care for the mentally ill. We are a professional staff, doing a lot with little support; it’s the other side of law enforcement. You can’t have one without the other.

So I ask again, why are county officials surprised?

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