County has other options for jail

Caroline Dieterle, 3 May 2013  •  Comments

Johnson County owns several houses opposite the current jail — 504, 510, 514 and 520 Capitol St., 7 Harrison St. and 4 Prentiss St.

Why aren’t those lots being used for a proposed new jail and courthouse expansion? They’re already off the tax rolls and cover a lot of ground: plenty of space to build on, and better than trying to paste a huge ugly new building onto the back of our historic courthouse.

An elevated walkway could connect the current jail to a new courthouse expansion facility across the street to provide space for more courtrooms and jail alternative programs. A smaller-sized, modern, high-security jail annex could be built there as well.

The repaired/rehabilitated old jail could still handle less dangerous inmates and serve as the sheriff’s office; the money spent on repairs and renovations for the current jail — which we’ve just been told are essential — would not be wasted.

What more modestly priced alternative plan using the Capitol, Harrison and Prentiss properties could the architects offer?

Vote “no” Tuesday, or earlier, and let’s see.

Caroline Dieterle
Iowa City