An Opinion: How Do We Solve the Jail Issue?

Columbia County’s current jail problem is both controversial and profound. There are those who seemingly aren’t able to afford the tax needed to support the levy, I get that, these are tough times. But unless you are weak on crime and/or have a soft spot for criminals, then you too agree we absolutely need a functioning jail like any other legitimate community. If communities didn’t need to incarcerate their criminals, we would see prisoners being released, jails and prisons all over America shutting down daily to  save money.  

I tend to look at issues like these pragmatically and without emotion.

First, we must block out the name callers and screamers  who spend their days parading around from meeting to meeting aroused by the sound of their own voice. You know who I mean. They make no articulate points, they bring no solutions to the table. This is exactly what is making politics dysfunctional and folks sick of the whole process.

Secondly, let’s include all folks — for or against the levy — who are willing to come forward and help to solve the problem in a civil tone. Conservative, moderate or liberal folks are welcomed to have a seat at the table, as long as they understand the debate will remain respectful. In order to have your ideas considered, you must listen to others.

Thirdly, linking this issue to the past, is irrelevant and does not solve  this problem.  If we miss this one, it will drive up our home owners insurance, car insurance, endanger our children, allow drunk drivers to own the streets, and more. If you cast this warning off as a “scare tactic,” then you aren’t paying attention. I am a very open-minded person and I will certainly entertain all concepts that arrive at the solution; as long as we do create a solution.

Calling people names is the mark of a weak mind who cannot articulate themselves effectively. Once the frontal cortex begins to process information, it is quickly overloaded and like a garbage disposal that isn’t functioning properly, it spews out a continuous flow of putrid, lurid sewage.

Making articulate points and arriving at solutions takes skill, but that’s what this country was built on. Small, rural communities of the pioneer-past had many significant problems, but they put their minds together to find those pertinent solutions. Sure, they also had the to deal with those who had nothing constructive to contribute and festered on the excitement of seeing their names in print and hearing their opinions over others, but they were quickly cast aside and concentrated on those who were serious problem solvers. This is what we must do now.

Even if you are against the current form of funding, that’s fine, your opinion is respected. If you don’t  care for the levy, but  express your concerns respectfully, that  is good because that is where we start to negotiate. These other noise-makers and name-callers are of no help to the process.

ALL smart and responsible people certainly agree we need a jail — unless you are soft on crime and you want to reward criminals — so let’s only focus on the constructive thinkers.


Randy Sanders is a photographer and blogger.  He occasionally writes for Vernonia’s Voice and can be reached by email: