NOTE: This is the sixth in a multi-part series of stories examining the Jail Levy issue now facing voters across Lewis and Clark County.
The Lewis and Clark County Detention Center, in short, is out of room.
Inmates are crammed in every hallway and corner available, with some even sleeping in the library and staff offices. For the county’s law-abiding taxpayer, this may seem a far-away, irrelevant problem. These people are criminals after all, right? Maybe it’s good that their incarceration be as uncomfortable as possible.
That, however, misses the danger the situation places the facility’s staff in daily. It also neglects the very real possibility of the county’s liability in a potential lawsuit – a bill which would then be footed by taxpayers. These are issues we’ve looked at this week.
But it also ignores the impact on the average, law-abiding citizen of Helena and the rest of the county.
The YWCA’s Kellie McBride says that with a portion of the levy earmarked for things like jail diversion, risk prevention and mental health screenings, there will be a marked impact on both the jail population and public safety.