‘No jail’ initiative falls short of signatures
Opponents of Seattle building a new jail have fallen about 5,000 signatures short of putting an initiative on November’s ballot that would have required the city to take a number of steps before building a jail.
The deadline for turning in the signatures is Thursday and theoretically the campaign could ask for a 20-day extension, said campaign manager Natalie Novak.
However, Novak said the campaign raised an issue “no one really knew about before.” Additionally, the county has said it would allow cities to bring people to the jail for misdemeanors beyond 2012. The county had said the cities had to stop before 2012, setting off the debate over building a jail.
A giant signed banner representing the Declaration of Independance hangs from a balcony at City Hall before being taken down because the organizers didn’t get the right permit. Rally for I-100 the No New Jail initiative was held at Seattle City Hall Plaza Wednesday. The event, sponsored by Real Change, brought together supporters in an effort to stop the City of Seattle from building a misdemeanor jail. ( Photo: Grant M. Haller)
The opponents argued Seattle police jail bookings have dropped by 25 percent in recent years while Seattle population has risen by 8 percent. While African-Americans are represented in King County average daily jail population by six times their percentage of population, five Seattle public schools that primarily serve African-American communities were closed this year to save the school system a meager $3 million. High school dropout rates and vulnerability to incarceration are clearly correlated in numerous studies of jail population.
Instead of jailing, they said on the campaign’s website: “During a time of reduced revenues and
consequent pressure on city, county, and state government to reduce funding for education and human services, I-100 asks for an emphasis upon proactive community intervention over incarceration and punishment-based approaches to social problems.”
The initiative would have required the city to analyze successful and cost-effective jail diversion programs, address the effects of racial disparity within the incarceration system, work collaboratively with King County, and put the matter of a new jail to a public vote before a new jail could be constructed.
Willie Austin, Austin Foundation, explains to audience that the efforts to raise 18,000 signatures to qualify I-100 fell 5,000 short. Rally for I-100 the No New Jail initiative was held at Seattle City Hall Plaza Wednesday.
Barbara Tomlinson listens to Willie Austin, Austin Foundation, explain that the organizers were going to turn in 13,000 signatures, 5,000 short of he 18,000 number needed to get the initiative on the ballot. Rally for I-100 the No New Jail initiative was held at Seattle City Hall Plaza Wednesday. The event, sponsored by Real Change, brought together supporters in an effort to stop the City of Seattle from building a $226,000,000 misdemeanor jail. (Photo: Grant M. Haller)