Schools not jails

Jail, notably not school.

Jail, notably not school.

There are good ideas, and then there are bad ideas. Good ideas include (but are not limited to): taco trucks, Trick or Vote, and the beach in the summer. In terms of bad ideas, well, there are a lot, more than we could list here (sigh).

Luckily, there’s good news about one very good idea. It’s called I-100, and it’s a Seattle initiative with a very basic premise: before the City builds a new $226 million jail facility, make sure we’re examining all the options on the table. Let’s take a look at treatment and rehabilitation, and let’s make sure that we’re not disproportionately locking away people of color.

That’s it. That’s all. Make sure we know what we’re getting into before we’re into it, and make sure our system is fair.

It’s a compelling idea, and it’s popping up all over the country. In fact, I-100 is the local manifestation of what’s rapidly becoming a national movement to re-examine how we approach incarceration and criminal justice. One of the vocal supporters on this issues is Virginia Senator Jim Webb, who’s taking a national leadership role using the bully pulpit that being a prominent elected official provides.

The concept is straightforward, but it’s a big idea, so here’s what the good folks at I-100 have to say about it:

  • Initiative 100 says the City must negotiate the contract, which already exists, with King County to keep room for municipal arrests in the County jail.
  • Initiative 100 mandates the city to look into its local communities and the upstream programs that are helping build futures, not undermine them. It forces the city to examine alternatives to incarceration.
  • Initiative 100 mandates the City of Seattle examine the disparity in arrests and the over-representation of people of color in Seattle’s jails.
  • Finally, and most importantly, Initiative 100 will put the question of this costly new jail on the ballot for a public vote.

See? All good stuff. The Bus approves.

We like Initiative 100, and we’re going to be working on it in the weeks and months to come. Want to jump on? Contact the Bus (info(at)washingtonbus(dot)org), or sign up at the I-100 website. Seriously, it’s just plain a good idea.


4 Responses to “Schools not jails”

  1. 1 benoit
    April 1, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Good to know that the Bus is going to take this on. Now THIS is something the Bus should get behind… young voters can either go to schools or jails. I think I’m gonna go with the schools option.

  2. April 1, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I-100 would like to thank the awesome crew at the Bus for their help and support. We look forward to working and WINNING with you! ~Rachel

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