Skip to content

Read our recommendations for improving the County’s jail funding ordinance

On June 22, 2023, the Riveters’ Justice System Committee sent County Executive Satpal Sidhu and Councilmembers the letter below regarding the draft jail funding ordinance they intend to place on the November 2023 ballot. We recommend contacting these local officials to support these changes and any others you would like to see.

  • Executive Sidhu –
  • Councilmembers –

Dear Executive Sidhu and Councilmembers,

We have closely followed all the work by the Council and many citizen groups over the past year to develop a plan for addressing justice system concerns in Whatcom County. We would like to support passage of a ballot measure to raise funds; however, the draft ordinance seems to fall short when it comes to emphasizing prevention and treatment over incarceration, a priority shared at many town hall meetings, and through surveys and focus groups. 

We would like the County to revise the ordinance language to correct this, as described below:

  • Specify monies collected from the sales tax will be evenly appropriated between services and construction of the jail
  • Require oversight board members include those most impacted (on the ground service providers, behavioral health and tribal members as well as those with lived experiences)
  • Ensure transparency by frequently reporting to the public data regarding use of funds, outcomes, alignment with the Needs Assessment, etc.
  • Include a process where a third party evaluates goals, progress, and accountability for funds spent using the Needs Assessment and recommendations by the Stakeholders Advisory Group.

We are at a crisis situation in the County and this money appropriation has the potential to fund a huge shift in our local justice system, if implemented and continually evaluated for best results. 

Please consider revising the ballot measure to spell out how this will be accomplished, so we can vote with confidence on monies that the County will collect and spend over the next 30 years.


Riveters Collective Justice System Committee