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JAIL: Bricks, mortar not answer

| April 25, 2010 10:00 PM

In response to the Press article about the jail being too full, I would like to present a “Top 10 list” of reasons why. Every point on this list deserves more attention, deeper investigation, and perhaps its own front page article.

10. Excessive bail amounts – Many times higher than surrounding states; prevent bonded release from jail until time of trial.

9. Extremely far out court dates – Many times longer than national averages; leave people languishing in jail for many more months waiting for their day in court.

8. Pre-sentence interviews – Take 30 minutes and are less and less often required by the court, but unsentenced inmates can wait months in jail for an appointment.

7. Excessive cost of “programs” – Many ordered by the court are very expensive, very lengthy, and are often a condition of probation. If unforeseen money or time constraints occur, this “probation violation” will return an individual to jail so they can begin again at the top of this list.

 6. Excessive probation length – Again greater than surrounding states and leaves more time for a violation to occur, returning you to jail and the top of this list.

5. Inadequate public defenders – Understaffed, overwhelmed, and underpaid, which puts their impetus on plea bargains. Low salaries attract less qualified lawyers which also result in inadequate defenses. Both leave more people in the system.

4. Inadequate sentencing and probation standards – Clear standards would prevent arbitrary, excessive, or reactionary implementation of jail time.

3. Excessive sentencing – Leaves inmates in our care longer. Sentences in Idaho are longer than average and Kootenai County’s are some of the state’s longest.

2. Prejudice in courts – Rampant in this county. A greatly disproportionate amount of minorities are in our jail. Results of a case are often determined long before court convenes. Evidence is often disallowed, manipulated, or missing at time of trial.

1. Timing – It seems this subject only comes up when the county is pushing for more of our tax money for new facilities. Freedom may not be free but it sure is less expensive. Let my people go.

CHARLES WRIGHT

Public Safety Building

Coeur d’Alene

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