Jail Predicament Explained
Joy Gilfilen, President of the Restorative CommUnity Coalition, has selected a set of resources from the 2010-2017 period where the Whatcom County officials were launching jail sales tax campaigns.
The following resources form a “big picture” look at the compound predicaments we face as they continue to hire jail building contractors (who have a bias, a conflict of interest) to plan to build a jail and pass taxes to underwrite the expansion of the School-to-Prison pipeline on the northern border of the US. The public has been working to engage the officials to use our tax dollars to provide public safety for the public good (to help people in emotional crisis) rather than building a “Public Safety Building” (to arrest more people and house them in a large regional jail compound that causes more crisis and trauma). This video explains the predicament from the Coalition’s perspective after our volunteers did the research.
Big Corporate “Privateering” is Big Business in Local Jails
A Brief Snapshot of Events
- VOTERS SAID NO TWICE AT THE BALLOT BOX
The public has been testifying repeatedly since 2010 against building another jail. We have gone through the EIS process, written hundreds of letters and emails, attended dozens of task force meetings, hosted workshops and trainings, proposed dozens of solutions. There is NO NEEDS ASSESSMENT that justifies or explains why building a jail is a better investment rather than providing public services. The County has not held one single public hearing before the entire Whatcom County Council with the public able to provide alternatives to NOT BUILDING A JAIL. Everything has been directed around the plan to build a jail.
2015: Voters voted down the 2015 tax by 51%. It was a double tax (.02%) sales tax.
2017: The same tax was proposed again in 2017. Voters resoundingly rejected it by 58%.
FACT: To solve jail mismanagement and behavioral health issues, the taxpayers are already paying three extra earmarked taxes every year (producing for the County corporation over $12 Million extra income annually). Unfortunately rather than solving the problems, it fueled a stronger tax addictive response. Contrary to common sense, the bureaucratic costs have mushroomed and the average length of stay in the jail went from 8.5 days to 22 days creating worse conditions for people.
- Taxpayers know that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
We’ve asked for fiscal analysis and justification in the form of a 3rd party independent Needs Assessment – which the County has never done. We have asked for oversight, for the implementation of alternatives to building bigger jails – such as recovery centers, training programs. We have asked the bureaucrats to do self-correction of their failing systems so we an stop the over-criminalization caused by administrative failures. They take baby steps.
- Taxpayers want PREVENTION 1st, before incarceration.
Services that help people learn how to intervene in conflict situations and to intercept trauma (especially at the point of first contact in a distressing situation). People at risk need help with emotional trauma support, services for families who are dealing with emergencies, distress, dislocation, arrests, economic upheaval, mental health, substance use, dual diagnosis, rehabilitation and addiction issues. It stops the cycle of recidivism at the front door – before people enter the jailgates.
- Contrary to logic, the top three law enforcement officials ignore the people.
Instead of solving the problem, they plan to expand it and their vision has been building a huge public safety building compound – a 2450 bed regional jail project instead. To achieve their vision, they hired jail building contractor consultants and paid them $3 million to provide the visionary plans to pass a tax, get the money and build the facilities in three phases. Then years of additional soft costs, and bought 40 acres of land (at $150,000 an acre) pre-maturely to build the “largest capital improvement project in Whatcom County’s history”.
- The Coalition has therefore concluded that jails have become a tax addiction and a public health hazard, rather than for the public’s safety. They are a business center for the County corporation and used to compel taxpayers to underwrite the mass incarceration business industry expansion. It has been shown that jails perpetuate trauma, spark abuse, addiction, mental illness, poverty, homelessness, social upheaval. This is contrarian behavior and economically devastating for the community vitality and economic security.
- Clear evidence: NO money has been spent hiring people who know how to help us to NOT BUILD A JAIL.
Video & Links
Communitty Engagement Resources
Panel – No More Jail Tax 2017
Joy Gilfilen, Chair: The Local Justice Reform Now PAC
Joy Gilfilen, a business consultant introduces the panel with Flipping the Snookeries Game – why jail and justice reform is critical action, and why the community must reject the 2017 Jail Sales Tax proposal. Since 2010 Joy, has “followed the money trail” in Whatcom County as a case study. A free enterprise business coach, Joy was shocked to find that the School-to-Prison Pipeline business model spawned a contrarian and speculative jail building industry run by jail and prison building contractors who become consultants in public safety. This is a direct conflict of interest: They build public safety buildings – they do not consult on how to provide for the public’s safety. Joy has concluded this is contrary to the public’s health, even as it grows the demand for more jails, more government expansion, more demand for tax dollars.
Panel – No More Jail Tax 2017
The Real Price Families Pay for Jailing Youth by Businessman Rob Leib
Rob Leib, a local businessman talks about how real-life stories of how jailing people who are dealing with emotional distress, mental health issues create compounding problems. He tells the real story of his own son, then tells stories of others, and how their minor incidents or infractions can end up with arrest warrants, compound felonies that come from being housed inside the jail system, and how non-violent people then end up recycling through the Whatcom County Jail system. His conclusion is that the current system is militarized, violent and reflects the growth of the commercial prison industry. It is not about public safety, and the new jail tax must be voted down.
Predatory Leadership by Matt Kramer, Private Prison Guard
Matt Kramer knows how the business of incarceration works from the inside out – he worked as a prison guard at the Core Civic – the new name of the Corrections Corporation of America. He has authored a book called Predatory Leadership about the abusive systems of predatory leadership that control the prison industrial complex driven economy. He knows that these systems create abuse, addiction on all levels. The disempowered victims of the system are used for profiteering, and the employees become disconnected from empathy and compassion, and the system goes sideways. It is a losing spiral system that perpetuates and recycles unless it is stopped and reversed. Just say NO.
Follow the Money – David Camp, Accountant
“Why Bankrupt Whatcom County?” David Camp, an accountant who has spent his life analyzing cash flow, liquidity and smart business investments, analyzes the long term impact of the proposed Jail Sales Tax on the Whatcom County citizens and our community economy. Using the County’s own numbers and publicly available data, he explains in simple terms how the money works to the people’s detriment. David reveals the out of balance costs that have accelerated – contradictory to logic – and in direct conflict to demand: Actual crime rates have been dropping. It is a sinkhole of economic failure. He concludes that it could easily bankrupt the County if the tax were implemented. David Camp is panelist #3 of 7 who gives us all a wake up call of bloated systems. David, a citizen journalist, has written several extraordinary articles about this in Northwest Citizen. See below buttons in sequence of publication.
Mass Incarceration: The Uprising by Josh Ceretti, WWU Professor
Josh Ceretti puts the jail industry and business connections into the context of time, the 13th Amendment, and the establishment of a new form of slavery in 1865. He points out that just 160 years ago…there were no jails at all in Washington State. Explains how indigenous people had ways of working with people who violated the social order that did not involve jails. Today, nationally, our nation arrests 12 Million people a year and incarcerates them in jails. People who are accused – not convicted – of a crime. These people’s freedoms are taken away, as they become assets of the County – and this starts a secondary economic engine that spawns an entire commercial community business empire. It is time for an absolute change.
The “Illusion of Inclusion” Series Intro
#1: Pattern of County Task Force Panels
#2: Rejects Leadership, Grows Law & Justice
#3: Rise of Jail Industry Consultants
#4: Millions for Jail Industry Contractors
#5: Contractors — Costly EIS Fiasco
#6: Executive Bullying — Hardball Tactics
#7: County Buys Land Under Duress
#8: County Bullies the City of Belligham
What is a Real Needs Asessment?
Reset Button #1: Chelan County Example
Rest Button #2: Walla Walla Example
Repair the Jail First
Officals Ignore Vera Jail Studies — Buy Tax Plan
Vote No on Jail Tax Proposition 2017-6
Jail & Justice Reform – Juliette Daniels, Attorney
Juliette Daniels, an attorney who investigates facts as a citizen journalist – presents the history of official behavior relative to jail expansion in Whatcom County and discusses why Mental Health, Jail and Justice System Reform is essential. Juliette tracks the history and shows there is No Needs Assessment, and the people’s testimony against the tax and for jail reform has been dismissed by jail building jail contractors hired in a conflict of interest. No More Jail Taxes are critical to turning the habit of “guilty at arrest”. Speaker #2 of 7 lays the groundwork to understand logically why no tax is essential, no new jail is essential, and instead, we need to do a true needs assessment, to create an authentic public safety net to help us, the people, heal the community mental health issues and trauma that shows up in crisis. The public has been asking for it. Records show a failure to justify the expenditure. Mismanagement of the jail is the problem. We pay THREE extra earmarked taxes for jail support already! Read some of her other citizen journalism articles going into the history of the jail growth here…it is not about the people….it illustrates political failure.
A Deeper Dive into Systemic Failures of Civic Systems & Leadership
by Juliette Daniels in 2018
#2 – Tax Heist and Land Scam Research by Citizen Journalist Tip Johnson
Following the civic money trail is deceptively hard work. The links below are deep-dive research articles (requiring lots of Public Information Act requests) into the money games that transcend decades of taxes taken in, dollars misspent, property sales, and more.
Why a Big Jail? We Need Public Safety for People
Persistent Jail Thing — Coming for Your Wallet
Pig in a Poke? Land Scam? Tax Heist?
The Big Fib — Trust Gaps Misinformation
Tax Addiction, Overspending, Civic Bloat
Hiring Jail Builders to Not Build a Jail?
These are articles from citizen journalist Tip Johnson who has decades of civic service in Whatcom County. He has served in public office, been a local small businessman, and started doing investigative journalism for public benefit. His pithy independent investigative research has been published in Northwest Citizen, the longest-running political blog in Washington State. Here are some of his ‘tough love’ pieces and views on the tax addictive economy that continues to be driven by hidden tactics of the jail building, prison expansion industry specifically as it works in Whatcom County, WA where the top three law enforcement officials have been working to build a 2450 bed jail in a community of fewer than 250,000 people. A county whose crime rates have been steadily dropping for years, who already has three jails, and whose citizens are already paying on three extra jail-related sales taxes, bringing in over $12 Million a year in extra revenue. “Houston – we have a problem here. The public has voted down the jail tax twice – the last time by 58%. Yet the top officials are considering doing an end-run around the citizens again – it is civic deception.” the Restorative Community Coalition has found that these political machinations of the officials amount to the highest level of a tax scam – which caused our President, Joy Gilfilen to file complaints with the WA State Public Disclosure Commissions…see the column to the right.
Whatcom County Case Study
Whatcom County is a corporation that manages hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money annually – in trust for us taxpayers. We pay them to work for us…and to use our money wisely. Yet the top officials in Whatcom County were pushing us, taxpayers, to buy another huge jail without economic justification. They did not generate a true Needs Assessment for the taxpayers. They had a business speculation & promotions plan – but not a fiscal analysis or justification for the purchase of a jail. So we did our own work -hosted a citizen’s mastermind style of event and came up with a planning model that would serve the people.