To the editor:
Do we really need a new jail and what about the financing?
Thereís a lot of discussion about the cost of a new county jail and how it should be financed. Increasing the sales tax in Delaware County is the most regressive way they could choose to finance anything, and is about as fair as just directly taxing people with annual incomes under $15,000. Of course, our Commissioners and Councilmen make much more than that and donít have to worry about putting food on the table! Delaware County has the lowest average income in the state and adding tax on food is an abomination!
If I had my way, we would just quit enforcing the Oklahoma marijuana laws! I read in the Oklahoma Observer that a first time conviction for pot possession can get you up to a year in jail and up to 10 years for a second violation. Growing your own can cost you up to $20,000 or up to life in prison. In California, pot possession is a misdemeanor, which can result in a small fine! Not enforcing our pot laws might alleviate the need to build a new jail. I once smoked a marijuana cigarette and got nothing more than a sore throat. I suspect that other than the effect that one might get from a bottle of 3.2 beer, it is pretty much the same. I can also remember when having a drink of whiskey in Oklahoma could also land you in jail!
Decriminalization of marijuana was recommended by, of all people, President Richard Nixon, back in 1972. The state spends $ millions incarcerating people for these minor offenses and the cost of enforcement costs millions more! Maybe itís time to take another look at some of Oklahomaís outdated, regressive laws!
Another bothersome statistic is that each inmate costs the state/county, $51,000 per year. I would wager that many of the inmates in Delaware County jail are there for minor infractions and could easily be trusted (paroled) to a work program (maybe fixing some of the potholes in our roads/streets,) by showing up for work each morning! This could also save the County a few bucks and again, we might not have to build a new jail!