[Source: “Focus on problem, not peripherals,” Press Citizen, 1 May 2013, by Sue Ellen Crosslea]
I have followed discussions about the proposed justice center, and my concern is why so many people are focused on problems peripheral to the project.
There are many important services a justice center would offer, and those are being side-tracked. Safety of the workers and anyone else entering our courthouse or jail is also of huge importance, but that seems not to matter to many citizens.
I formerly worked for of Atlanta as the director of human services before and during the 1996 Olympics. We also had decisions to make about a new jail and we were concerned about the very real threat of terrorism. Thus, we built a jail larger than our population indicated was necessary.
That also enabled us to provide services to a population in our city that this nation has ignored, and in fact has left to suffer on the streets in great peril. I refer to people with mental health problem, who are arrested and jailed due to behavior caused by lack of housing and access to medications they desperately need.
Even though Iowa City doesn’t have the extent of problems we faced in Atlanta, I believe any space in a new justice center that could be set aside to serve people with those needs would be incredibly helpful.
Sue Ellen Crosslea