Build 6-Story Dane County Jail, As Too Many Wish To Reside There

The local conversation has not been as elongated as that which surrounded the downtown Judge Doyle Square development, but the numerous ideas and dialogue about the new Dane County jail seem akin to it.  Last week, the County Board was unable to pass any of its three options for moving forward with the jail consolidation project.  On the chopping block was a plan that lacked credibility as it scaled back the structure by one floor and reduced bed space for inmates. Data proves more space, not less space will be required.

As the news was reported in the Wisconsin State Journal about the lack of securing the needed votes on the Board for any new jail plan, came another sad example of why this ongoing planning must be pushed forward. Three 18-year-olds were charged in Madison with attempted first-degree intentional homicide.  Two of the adults got out of a car driven by the third man and started shooting at another man who was walking and then running away from the vehicle. The victim had broken bones in his pelvis.

As we know from data, Black men are arrested and charged for crimes at a far higher rate than their white counterparts. Reform-minded advocates have stated their belief that inequities in housing, education, social services, and other factors are the reasons for crimes. It can also be documented that Blacks face inequalities in the sentencing they receive for crimes.  While all that can be proven so can the abundant programming and ever-growing funding from the City of Madison, Dane County, the State of Wisconsin, and Congress at the federal level to combat the reasons for arrests. 

Clearly, something is not working.

Whatever propels young adults to pursue someone, shoot numerous rounds, and then when their home is searched a handgun and large extended magazine in a freezer are found does cause the average citizen to ask what part of the social system is broken.  Is the cause the taxpayer who does pay for social programming and truly desires for it to show results in the communities where it is used and needed?  Is the cause due to family structures that are so fragmented and dysfunctional that basic concepts of right and wrong are as foreign as metaphysics?  Whatever the cause may be the result is that those who can not or will not conduct themselves in accordance with societal norms must pay a price for their actions.

Would I like to see all the money needed for a new jail appropriated somewhere else?  Of course.  But that is not our reality. As long as there are so many among us who wish to reside in the Dane County jail based on the absurdity of their actions then we will need to house them, keeping them separate from the ones who do live between the guard rails of law and order.

I am not sure how the current impasse will resolve itself in deliberations over the jail among Board members.  But I am certain the end result will be a needed 6-floor development project.  Sadly, almost every edition of the newspaper underscores its necessity.

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