Butler County Jail:Our local money pit!
Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 27, 2003
The events of the past 48 hours at the Butler County Jail concern us greatly.
There were 22 people, plus correction officers who had to endure two nights of below freezing temperatures at the Butler County Jail.
This is unacceptable.
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These men and women are guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States the right of not facing cruel or unusual punishment.
We, as a county, failed these people by having a jail that is beyond help and that is long overdue for demolition.
For too long now, the jail has been at the center of controversy.
It is outdated and is well past its time.
We believe action is needed and it was needed two years ago.
We understand the Commission's plight when it comes to funding.
We know that there isn't enough revenue to pay for a jail outright, but we also believe that if some type of compromised isn't reached and we don't do something, Butler County's future will soon rest with the federal judicial system.
In this era of multi-million dollar verdicts, it is only a matter of time before we see our county on the losing end, and in a big way.
This isn't brain surgery or even an educated guess.
This is common sense, plain and simple.
We do not see the county in this alone.
The municipalities that also use the jail as well as the state troopers should all share the cost.
Not so long ago, the public outcry was that we should all work together to build a new high school in Greenville; well now the public needs to cry out again for a new jail.
We would like to live in a society that doesn't require a county jail, but sadly we do not.
We have to ask ourselves if we truly want our tax dollars to pay some defendant millions of dollars because a jury returns a verdict in their favor.
We're here to tell you that we certainly don't want that.
It is amazing that every county around Butler County all have new correctional facilities, yet we don't.
Sure, some of those counties that went for the top-of-the-line designs and such are having problems, but a lot of those problems are based on the fact that too many people are playing politics, and that is something that must be and will be taken out of Butler County's equation:
Now, with these recent events, this opens the door wide open for many more suits.
It places us in a position of damage that could be unlike we have ever seen before.
Who can we blame?
We can't blame Sheriff Harris, she inherited the jail and its failing condition from the previous sheriff, who likewise, inherited it from his predecessor.
We can't blame the commissioners in place now, they inherited the problem from their predecessors.
However, at some point, someone must make a stand and say "This is all we're going to take.
We don't need any other wake up calls."
Because when that jury returns that multi-million dollar verdict, sadly that wake-up call is going to a whole lot more than what a new jail would cost.
Think about it.