IMC: "Sign the Petition to the Champaign County Board to say: Stop the 20 million dollar jail expansion!"

From the IMC:

The Champaign County Board is considering a proposal to spend $20 million on new jail cells. They claim the current downtown jail, built in 1980, is beyond repair. The Board plans to pay for the new jail cells from the public safety sales tax which brings in about $4 million per year.

We say the Board, rather than spending $20 million on jail construction, should focus on investing in preventative services that will keep people out of jail and prison, things like youth job training, mental health centers, substance abuse treatment and re-entry programs for people returning home from prison. Click the title to add your name to the growing list of people who support investing in prevention instead of detention.

“To: The Champaign County Board We the undersigned oppose the Champaign County Board’s proposal to spend $20 million on new jail cells. We believe the Board should spend this money funding preventative programs that will keep people out of jail and prison.”



For those not following this, the Champaign Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice have been well organized and fighting hard against the idea of a new county jail.


PS – I noticed that some petition signers are using the opportunity to make a counter-statement instead of voice support. It is interesting to hear from folks who think that the current laws (and their enforcement) are perfectly just. I ask, if the way we are doing things now is good and right, then why do we have so much crime? Why is there such a huge disparity among the population in jail vs those not in jail? What else explains that?

7 Responses to “IMC: "Sign the Petition to the Champaign County Board to say: Stop the 20 million dollar jail expansion!"”

  1. pattsi Says:

    Besides signing this petition, I would like to make the public aware that there will be a CB study session on 30 April @ 6 P @ Bookens. Dr. Kalmanof will present his draft report. Then on 2 May, same time and place, the CB is holding a public hearing related to the report. Kal, as he prefers to be addressed, mentioned he anticipates that the report will be rather long so the public will have to put forth effort to read it to be informed sufficiently to make statements and ask questions.

  2. Vav Says:

    You ask: “I ask, if the way we are doing things now is good and right, then why do we have so much crime? Why is there such a huge disparity among the population in jail vs those not in jail? What else explains that?”

    As humans we are born with and freely exercise “free will”. Some use their free will to choose a path that is destructive to themselves and/or to society. They break the rules.

    Some argue that the purpose of jails should be to figure out why people do evil actions so that we can change them (rehabilitative). Others argue that jails should be punishment for evil behavior (punitive). And there are other arguments as well. Regardless, WE collectively pay for the criminal justice system and the goal is to have people exercise their free will in a way that is building up of society, not breaking it down.

    What explains the disparity among the population in jail vs. not in jail? I see that there are people who do not see evil behavior as wrong, or there are incentives to do evil behaviors that outweigh the potential ramifications. Until people realize that evil behavior is not acceptable, we will continue to need jails so that people who choose to do evil are punished/rehabilitated/removed from society. The goal is to get all to live up to the requirements of our society, how we get there is what we debate.

    This discussion is well paralleled with the suspension argument for schools. It is students who choose bad behaviors that are the issue. How do we get them to choose good behaviors. What can we do to keep the students that choose bad behaviors from impacting the majority that make good behavior choices?

  3. charlesdschultz Says:

    Yes, this discussion has a very strong parallel to the suspension discussion, hence the whole reason why I post about the jail in a blog dedicated to the school district. 🙂 Thanks for making that relationship more concrete.

    So who gets to decide what is “good behavior”? What is “evil”? Perhaps that gets to the root of one of the issues. The second root is “What to do with those who are ‘bad’?”

    I think we have to be careful about playing God in this saga. I know I screw up and make a ton of mistakes (hhmm… that would make for an interesting blog post…). If I were punished and held accountable to the written law for every single infraction, large or small, my life would be quite different. Am I “evil”? If not, why not? I have exercised “bad behaviors”, so…..

    I truly believe there has to be accountability in any kind of society, all the way down to individual relationships. But it must be an accountability based on the loving message of “Because I care so much about you and I truly, sincerely, honestly want to see you be a better person, I am going to point out some problems you have. Would you do the same for me, please?” Too much accountability without love becomes punitive and oppressive. Too much love without accountability becomes lax, disruptive, anarchistic and chaotic. We have to find the balance. And it is hard work. At times, it sucks – it can be (and often is) sacrificial, giving up what you want and/or need for the sake of another. Show me a marriage that can convey the loving+accountability message and I’ll show you a healthy marriage. It takes a lot of work to have a thriving, healthy marriage (I still have a lot of work to do – don’t think I speak from having already attained it), a lot of toil and effort, of giving up of yourself. Same with society. Same with schools. I do not know any easier way to do it; the roads well-traveled are so because they are easier, not necessarily better.

  4. charlesdschultz Says:

    Linking this post to the Jim Dey conversation about suspensions due to similarities of discussion:

  5. pattsi Says:

    Just a statistical reminder–a good percentage of the jail inmates are there for non violent crimes, such DUI, fines, bonds that can not be met, stealing, mental health issues, etc. So a major aspect of the discussions cover these violations that might be handled in another manner than jail time. There is a tremendous need and gap for mental health issue. This is do to the actions taken by Nixon and Reagan along with the budgetary cuts on the state level. As a community, we need to continue this conversation, in particular as to the spending of the mental health monies generated from property taxes along with the public safety tax. Creative and outside the box thinking is what needs to be engaged.

  6. Karen Says:


    Where is all the activism when it comes to fatherhood initiatives and family planning?

    Single mom headed households correlate extremely highly with poverty (some would argue one of the top predictors of poverty).

    The activists like to argue that ‘It’s a set up.’ :

    So many innocents just trying to raise their families through hard work (vs. quick cash via theft and the profession of drug dealing) being swept up into jail. The whole attitude of ‘for no reason’ seemingly lauded by many activists isn’t something that should be encouraged. The current laws of civil society are what they are. IMO it’s oppressive to teach people to ‘resist’ when doing so quite predictably lands them in jail. Easy for the activists to instruct on, as they’re not the primary stakeholders (beyond self-serving financial interests). I can’t find it right now, but, I have some quote from a person complaining about SROs in schools ‘criminalizing’ student behavior. As though the behavior itself is not a problem. It’s the fact that the student is called on it that is the problem. Criminalizing ‘simple assault and battery,’ can you imagine?! Note to those who argue such a thing. The parent of any victim of a little ‘simple assault and battery’ at school can file a police report on behalf of their kid regardless of whether or not their is an SRO on campus. In what public setting is simple assault and battery (including by a person under 17/18 years of age) acceptable/not criminal? County Market? The Post Office? The library? School is no place to be permissive about this. Sure, they’re ‘kids’ (as though that’s of any consolation to a victim). Teachable moments and all that, right? And it’s not like a little pushing and shoving is ‘written up.’ It appears to take something rather severe to trigger formal action. Start a charter school where discipline for ‘no reason’ is outlawed and those who defend ‘simple assault and battery’ can start a charter school where discipline for ‘no reason’ is outlawed and send their kids there.

    Is education in prison working? How about alternative incarceration programs like Dixon Springs? To hear some of these activists talk you would think there were ZERO resources/programs, etc. associated with the prisons. I watched part of a meeting linked from CUCPJ and just had to discontinue when some of these activists were going on about how oppressive and unfair ‘piss tests’ (their scoffing term) were as part of parole (i.e., drug testing for drug offenders).

  7. pattsi Says:

    The following post is to encouraging thinking among community members to think outside the box related to the monies available for public safety and mental health. In part this response is stimulated by Karen’s post.

    to Peter
    Hi everyone, I just returned from attending the national American Planning Association conference. One of the session that I choose to attend had to do with participatory budgeting. This is a budget method being used in NYC, a number of the wards in Chicago, and Lincoln, NE–at least those are the people who did the presentations. The purpose of this method is to engage the public in deciding how their tax dollars are spent. According to the presentations, there are a number of interesting results of this approach:

    1. Many times the public is more willing to spend on “X” than the professionals thought would be the case.
    2. Increased public participation in the process.
    3. By engaging the public in the process, even if the public did not get a project funded or not to the extent desired there was much great understanding why this was the case and much more acceptance.

    As I listened to all of this information, I am thinking that this might be a useful way to engage the public in deciding how the amount of monies for mental health and public safety get distributed.

    If you have an interest in this idea, I have the information how NYC does the process and an example of the ballot used in Chicago ward 49, Joe Monroe is the alderman. If you made the request, I would be glad to lone it to the county to scan so it can be distributed to each of you electronically.


    Doing some searching on the internet has provided a number of resources for the participatory budgeting concept:

    New York City

    Click to access pbreport.pdf

    (This is the report that I have in hand.)

    Chicago Ward 49 Joe Monroe Rachel Weber, UIC, Great Cities Institute, is working with him to research the process

    Unlike NYC, I can not find a copy of the ballot on the internet. I do have a paper copy of the 2011 ballot.

    Lincoln, NE Mayor Chris Beutler and Alan Tomkins Director U. of Nebraska Public Policy Center

    Click to access PublicInputForCityBudgeting-Tomkins,%20et%20al.pdf


    If you are interested in more information about this concept that was started in Brazil, here are some academic papers.

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