Urgent Action to Stop the Mega-jail

Riveters!

This Monday the 19th at 7pm it is all hands on deck to ask the Bellingham City Council to vote NO on the Jail Facility Use Agreement*.

If the City Council says yes to funding the big jail, this will send a loud message that the City Council supports a mega-jail. We want them to represent our progressive values and say NO to the big jail because this is the wrong plan for our community.

Please attend the City Council meeting on Monday, June 19th at 7pm, sign in to speak during Open Session, and ask that they vote NO on the Agreement.  If you are unable to attend the meeting, scroll down for city email and phone info and contact them today.

*The Jail Funding Agreement states that the big jail (note: there’s been NO needs assessment to know how big it should be) will be funded with a regressive sales tax that will use 100% of the public safety sales tax capacity available to our community for the next 30 years. It details how the tax will be divided. 

You can view the funding agreement here: Interlocal Jail Facility Financing and Use Agreement. (Click on the “JFFUA” pdf on that page.)

 

What happens after the City Council votes NO?

This goes back to the County Council with a clear message that once again the City of Bellingham does NOT support a big jail in Ferndale. We then turn to the County Council and ask that they vote NO to putting this on the ballot. We can then step up to work with the councils on a solution that’s more fair, that isn’t a mega-jail in Ferndale and that prioritizes treatment over a huge building to lock people up.

 

Talking points

Please choose just one or two and add your own thoughts or story!

  • You are taking one of the last steps towards a mega-jail and it’s the wrong direction for Bellingham. This isn’t just about the funding or how the tax is divided, you’re taking a vote on the big jail. You have no other vote on the jail. This is it. Please vote no.
  • Are we really going to be the last community in America to build the mega-jail? Throughout the US incarceration is dropping and communities are rethinking this failed approach. While there are some who should be in jail, 73% of people in our jail haven’t been convicted. With work, such as the good work Bellingham has been doing, we can reduce incarceration.  
  • This jail proposal is $100-million. We can find a solution that doesn’t include a mega-jail and doesn’t take up all of our public safety tax capacity for the next 30 years. A new building won’t make our community safer.
  • Moving the jail to Ferndale removes a key part of Bellingham’s civic center and puts it in the Ferndale suburbs. This makes it harder for incarcerated individuals to meet with their attorneys, most of whom have offices near the current jail. It will increase the environmental impacts on our community when attorneys and inmates and staff drive back and forth.
  • The VERA Institute is completing a report to the Incarceration Task Force with recommendations to reduce how many people we jail in our community. Until that work is finished and implemented, we won’t know how big our jail should be. Please do not agree to fund the big jail without the data to know if we need it.
  • Our community should reconsider the Ferndale location and ask if the existing downtown Bellingham location might be better. That can only happen if you vote no on this funding agreement.
  • Bellingham has been moving in the right direction by aggressively reducing incarceration. I applaud that work! Please keep moving forward by voting NO on the big jail and this jail agreement.
  • We need to focus on services that will keep people out of jail such as treatment and other services. If we build a mega-jail our sheriff and judges will fill it and we will have less money for the treatment we know will both save money and make our community safer.
  • This proposal includes 36 ‘mental health beds’. But without a needs assessment we don’t know if that’s the right number or if the mentally ill should receive treatment inside the jail or outside, in a dedicated mental health facility.
  • We ask that you vote no on the Jail Funding Agreement and tell the County that this plan isn’t in the best interest of Bellingham.

Contact Information: If you are not able to attend and comment on Monday evening, contact the council today.

Email council at ccmail@cob.org, phone their office at (360) 778-8200, or give them a call:

  • April Barker, (360) 325-5128
  • Gene Knutson, (360) 734-4686
  • Dan Hammill, (360) 778-8213
  • Pinky Vargas, (360) 778-8210
  • Terry Bornemann, (360) 305-0606
  • Michael Lilliquist, (360) 778-8212
  • Roxanne Murphy, (360) 778-8211