In November 2012, over 35,000 people (a majority of local residents) voted in support of a Justice Center for Johnson County.
Those opposed to the proposed Justice Center expressed a variety of concerns:
- Not enough is being done locally to address the needs of the poor, and transform the conditions that contribute to poverty.
- Sources of racial disparity need to be identified and corrected.
- Enforcement of drug laws and the impact on incarceration rates needs to be evaluated.
- Jail alternative and diversion programs need to be expanded.
- A greater investment needs to be made in social services that reduce crime.
- The opposition offered alternative Justice Center proposals (of different size or location) that deserve consideration.
- Members of minority political groups in Johnson County felt their voice wasn’t heard.
- The proposal was considered too costly. With approximately $30 million spent on courthouse expansion and renovation, and $14 million spent on jail expansion, some residents felt a more economical solution might be available.
- Sustainability was not emphasized in the design.
- The location was not acceptable to some people.
So, in response to these concerns and suggestions, the current “Justice Center” (which is only a website at this point) is being redesigned to reflect a change that is responsive to those community views.
Not having a facility to operate out of, and without a budget, we continue to be sustained entirely by the support of volunteers.
It’s a disservice to the many residents who support the idea of a Justice Center to simply give up. It’s disrespectful of those opposed to the previous Justice Center proposal to ignore their concerns and suggestions. So, the website is an effort to express the combined interests of everyone involved. For an example of another online Justice Center that seems to work well, I encourage you to visit CSGJusticeCenter.org.
Johnson County deserves a Justice Center that lives up to the name. Please consider getting involved in shaping whatever it is that ultimately becomes adopted as a solution to the needs and challenges we face.
We’re going to end up with something. It might as well be a solution shaped by your input. Join the Facebook page and become engaged in the discussion. Thanks!
Justice Center Volunteer and Facilitator