PJALS opposes the ballot measure from County Commissioners Kerns and French to build a new jail in Spokane County.
Kerns and French voted in December to put a measure on the November 2023 ballot to ask voters to fund a new jail and unspecified programs with a 0.2% sales tax increase. They chose to hold this vote when County Commissioner Mary Kuney was out of town and just a few weeks before new County Commissioners Amber Waldref and Chris Jordan would be sworn in.
From the Spokesman: “If voters approve it, the tax would generate more than $1 billion over 30 years…. Spokane County would receive 60% of the funds, while the remaining 40% would be distributed among the county’s municipalities. Precisely how the millions would be spent is a mystery, and not entirely up to the county commissioners.”
Jail is the most expensive and least effective way to create safe communities. African Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color are being stopped, questioned, arrested, and jailed at disproportionate rates in our community. The vast majority of the people in the jail are held on low level charges, awaiting trial, and unable to afford bail. This systemically racist, harmful system must not be allowed to expand.
Every consultant, committee, task force, and community process for the last decade has told the county to jail fewer people and make our community safer through proven strategies for recovery, healing, and support rather than creating more cells.
This push for a new jail may be defeated in 1 of 2 ways. A majority of now-seated County Commissioners can vote to remove it from the ballot. Or, the ballot measure can be voted down by the people in November. You’ll hear more about this campaign, because we are committed to ending mass incarceration & systemic racism in Spokane County and defeating the push for a new jail. To commit now to voting against this measure, sign on at pjals.org/nonewjail.