[Source: “Justice center will fill a great need,” Press Citizen, 26 April 2013]
You may have seen the headlines or the campaign signs and fliers around campus and Iowa City, telling us to cast our vote either for or against a new jail in Johnson County. As a citizen of Johnson County and a student at the University of Iowa, I decided to become informed about the issue on the May 7 ballot.
Why do we need a new jail, I thought? What I found was a proposal that went much deeper than more jail cells to lock up more students. The jail, which actually comprises only 34 percent of the entire project, really is more accurately described as a justice center.
It includes four additional courtrooms, enabling more timely and efficient processing of cases. Johnson County currently transports inmates to other counties for incarceration (at a cost of more than $1 million per year) to make up for the lack of space in the current jail.
The arguments in opposition are many in number, but lack substantial supporting evidence. Seeing the need for a change in the current facilities, opponents are warping it into a tool to further other agendas. This improvement in the judicial facilities is reasonably planned to satisfy current and future needs of law enforcement in Johnson County.
Contrary to the naysayers’ contentions, the proposed justice center fills and will continue to fill a great need for Johnson County.
I hope that need is satisfied on the ballot on May 7 — I will be voting “yes.”