It's a jail, not a justice center

Andrew Alemao, 16 October 2012  •  Comments

Many seemingly well intentioned people have been writing letters in support of the projected $48.1 million "Justice" Center in Johnson County and many of them appear to be "progressives." Several of them have even acknowledged the already alarming racial disparity in our current jail as well as the needlessness of locking up non-violent drug offenders.

I would like to know what part of referring to a jail as a "Justice Center" and voting to fix an admittedly broken system by giving in to its demands doesn't come off to a self-affirmed "progressive" as just a little bit Orwellian?

In fact, I've already been told by several early voters that they voted for it because it was not entirely clear on the ballot they were voting for a jail.

As a several time drug offender and veteran inmate of Johnson County’s current jail, I can comment on how stark the difference between the persons of color population in the jail is compared to on the street. It’s safe to say the black population in the current jail is never lower than 20 percent and occasionally as high as 40 percent while they represent less than 6 percent of Iowa City’s population — and even less of Johnson County’s as a whole.

Those who lean left but support this institution should be aware that there won’t be any justice going on at the "Justice" Center.

There will be just us.

Andrew Alemao
Iowa City