3. Why shouldn’t services be tied to the jail?
People should not have to get arrested or go before a court to access social services, and keeping vital behavior health services in the same facility as the Jail will prevent people from accessing these resources even when they are made available. Additionally, there is no provision in the Jail Sales Tax that invests in these social services until after the new Jail is fully constructed, staffed, and operational.
Any amount of time spent in the incarceration system is traumatizing, dehumanizing, and ultimately causes massive harm to those involved in those systems. Providing these desperately needed social services only to those who have already interacted with the criminal legal system means that:
1) it is less likely that the services provided – especially behavioral health services – are used by those that need it due to their negative experience with the incarceration system.
2) individuals struggling to find housing, work, mental tranquility, and stability, are now only receiving care while also having to navigate the legal and financial obstacles of the criminal legal system. Social services are less expensive and more effective when they are not tied to locking people up.
3) Services offered exclusively to those going through the incarceration system are not only less likely to be used, but also less likely to be trauma-informed or of the same quality as those that are offered to the general population. In general, there is more oversight of those services that are offered to the general population than those that are only offered to a limited number of people. So those most in need of services are less likely to access services if they are in the jail, and the services that are accessible are of a lower quality and have less oversight than those offered to everyone.
With the delay of social services investments, the earliest that incarcerated individuals would see an increase in social services available to them, still only after they have been incarcerated and had their lives disrupted, is four to six years in the future. Even more, the County has received $9 million to build a behavioral health urgent care that would only need $3 million additional in funding to be constructed and less than $1 million a year to operate, yet they have chosen to prioritize spending $150 million over the next 5 years building a new Jail without an actual plan like similar measures in the past - $150 million that could be devoted to services, redistributing resources, and permanent affordable housing that could end youth and young adult homelessness.