The Herald recently ran an editorial about budget overruns at the Snohomish County Jail. I think I have a short-term solution. Since we continue to pass laws that, if violated, carry little or no repercussions; i.e., fireworks bans: penalty $124 fine; texting while driving (same); DUI( four to six infractions before any real consequences)… Let’s try this: The City Council passes a real penalty for, let’s say the fireworks law … there is still time to do it this year.— $10,000 fine for the first infraction; $5,000 goes to the neighbor that turns the scofflaw in, $1,000 to the Food Bank, and $4,000 to the sheriff for jail funding. Can’t pay the fine? One year in the county jail.
This is only a short-term solution as, once the penalty is actually publicized and enforced, only the real dimwits will continue, drying up most of the funds. If successful, we could start applying the solution to other chronic problems such as drunk driving…$25,000 fine (split between the Sheriff’s Office and the food bank) and the confiscation of the offender’s vehicle to be sold. Can’t pay? Two years — first offense.
Of course, this will never happen! Crime is a big driver of any local economy. Aren’t we having to build a new $150 million courthouse? If you reduce crime, things like that just aren’t needed. Imagine all the lawyers, courthouse staff, police and other administrative staff that would be looking for work. Let’s just admit to ourselves that if we really took a bite out of crime, the economic result would be worse than the problem itself!