It is a pathetic irony that in this "freest of nations," public safety and personal freedom have been jeopardized more than in any large nation by uncontrolled crime and recidivism. The Los Angeles Times, the media in general and our Legislature, however, have treated resultant jail overcrowding in Los Angeles and Orange counties as a local issue, when in fact it is symptomatic of the plight of urban centers throughout this crime-ridden nation. It is time that government comes to grips with the problem and with solutions which do not further jeopardize public safety and the integrity of our neighborhoods.
After 10 years of delay, controversial early inmate releases and stop-gap attempts to relieve the overcrowding, the Orange County Board of Supervisors under pressure chose political expediency over good judgment. The supervisors decided in a 3-2 vote to construct the largest jail in the United States, a $660-million maximum-medium security penal facility in Gypsum Canyon on some of the most expensive acreage in the county, far from our Central Court, where most cases are tried.
More logical and cost-effective alternatives such as expansion of Central Jail at the county seat (where Sacramento and San Diego counties chose to construct their large high-rise jails)--were ignored purely for reasons of political self-interest.