Reassess priorities

Mo Yacoub, 6 October 2012  •  Comments

I write this to express my concern about the project for the Johnson County Justice Center. I feel that in light of the increase in nonviolent arrests over the last several years, the increase in police-directed violence against peaceful protest, and the increase in use of for-profit prisons, the last thing Iowa City needs is an oversized place to put more nonviolent offenders behind bars, who shouldn't be in jail in the first place. I don't think it's responsible to spend over 50 million dollars (that we don't have) on the project. Furthermore, I resent the manipulative design of the building, so pretty and glass-laden, just enough to distract the public from what it really is.

I respect that the public wants to feel safe. I understand how our prisons are over-crowded. However, I truly believe the problem lies in our policies — our priorities on who gets investigated, who gets arrested, and ultimately, who goes to prison. When our police force gets incentives to make arrests more than they otherwise would, and when our "justice system" makes money from these processes, it is clear how the law enforcement system becomes corrupt. We must reassess our priorities: do we need nonviolent offenders, like a young college student busted for possessing an ounce of marijuana, costing the taxpayers so much money, and turning around to complain we're out of room in the jails? No. Send the rapists to jail. Send the murderers to jail. Kids who make mistakes don't need to be subjected to all this.

Mo Yacoub