New jail needed, but at what cost?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2005

The Butler County Commission seems closer to building a new jail for the county than ever before to replace the current county jail, which we believe everyone will agree is a relic of the past that needs to be dealt with.

While we're soundly for a new facility that will relieve overcrowding, improve safety for officers and citizens and protect the civil liberties of inmates, we question whether or not we're ready to invest in such a project with the funds we currently have to run such a facility.

There's no question the citizens of this county deserve a jail that will be a secure facility, one where escape is not an option. Also, the sheriff and her deputies need a facility that they feel safe entering.

However, make no mistake that building a new jail will be a long-term investment by the citizens of Butler County. Butler County Commission Chairman Jesse McWilliams said as much during Monday's special called meeting to discuss the new jail. Funds to pay off the $2.5 million bond, what the commission is considering borrowing to help pay for the jail, could result in cutback on county employees or the services offered to Butler County citizens.

We applaud the commission for taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our citizens.

However, we ask the commission to look long and hard at each step involved with the building of a new jail. Not only should they take a look at funds for its construction, but also whether or not we can afford to operate a new jail in the long run.