Government: JSIP Meets City Council, Swords to Plowshares Passes, Possible Sweeps Moratorium

Augerot & Kurth Talk to City Council About JSIP: At Monday’s evening’s City Council meeting, Benton County Commissioner Xan Augerot and Justice System Improvement Program (JSIP) Project Manager Nick Kurth spoke about the $166.9 million proposed program.  

The presentation emphasized four specific needs this project will address if approved under a proposed Bond Measure slated for May 2023 for approximately $100 million. The issues to be addressed include the lack of jail space in Benton County, the condition of current jail cells in the county, the considerable failure to appear rate in Benton County, and the lack of rehabilitative or mental health options within the current jail system  

An additional issue is the cost associated with driving prisoners to and from other leased jail beds in counties as far away as Wasco County – which costs the County approximately $1.5 million and two fulltime deputies per year. Another issue that will be causing more problems is the effect Senate Bill 48 will have on our current system as the bill eliminates the traditional bail system in favor of a danger-level system, which will increase the numbers of people in our jail beds.  

A January session will be calendared to further discuss strategy and progress.  

Sword to Plowshares Resolution Passes Unanimously: The City Council also spoke about a resolution called the Prohibition of Direct Investments in Manufacturers and Military Contractors. This resolution would prohibit the city from making direct investments with companies that manufacture or profit from weapons.   

Several members of the public took time to speak out in favor of this measure during the meeting. After some discussion and a recess, the resolution was passed unanimously.  

Council Considers Stop Houseless Sweeps: The City Council agreed to form an Executive or Work Session to consider a Rolling Moratorium on what has come to be known as the “sweeps” in which houseless individuals are moved from where they have been staying – a program that often causes these people to lose the majority of their possessions.   

The goal would be to provide more stabilized structures and sanitation services in designated areas to better address the ongoing houseless crisis. A potential 30 day-to-six-month moratorium will be considered.   

Ward 2 council member Christina Jancila said that the “Devil was in the details,” and said any agreement should not become simply a “Band Aid on a Bullet Wound.” A November 14 or November 17 meeting is tentatively scheduled.   

By Dominic Haberman 

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