Unfortunately we have people in Whatcom County who break the rules and get sent to jail. We need an adequate jail where they can serve their time, but let's not spend more money than we have to! We live in a pretty good area, so historically our incarceration rate is 0.2 percent. With a population of 204,000, we need about 408 beds. Add a 20 percent margin, in case things get out of control, that's only 490 beds. I believe that's about the right size, not the sheriff's suggestion for 700 beds.
Since this is a wonderful place to live, our population will grow to 271,142 by 2035, so let's be prepared for expansion. Doing the same math that's 651 beds a long time from now -- not 700.
Let's spend our money wisely today. The County Council should be setting policy and overseeing the budget for this project. That's good checks and balances. Buy a big piece of property. Build a jail for 500. Then 20 years from now, if it looks like we might need 600 or 650 beds, add a small expansion wing at that time. A new wing would then benefit from the latest technology that has come available. We won't have been wasting money on maintenance of empty buildings. Come on County Council, take charge here! The tax money we save can be put to good use for the next 20 years on something else that we really, or (wouldn't this be nice) what if we just kept it in our pockets.