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Scale of the Jail: Why the Residents Are Worried

December 09, 1990

Recent articles and editorials in The Times about Orange County's problems with finding a solution to jail overcrowding have done a serious disservice to the people of this county.

The blame for the current debacle is being laid at the feet of the people because of something called a "not in my back yard" attitude. We are being portrayed as selfish children who are unreasonably thwarting authorities in their courageous attempts to do what is best for us.

This attitude is simplistic and wrong. What the people of Orange County object to is not the building of a jail in their back yard but the building of the largest maximum security jail in the nation in their back yard. We object to the largest maximum security jail in the nation being placed in one of our growing communities, effectively destroying it.

No community should have to shoulder the responsibility of a 6,720-bed prison. We object to waiting years and suffering through the inevitable delays and cost overruns that building the largest-ever jail would cause.

We object to 60,000 more automobile trips a day along the already-overburdened Riverside and Costa Mesa freeways. We object to more of our hard-earned money being taken away to cover the astronomical costs of building and operating a jail of this size.

Most of all, we object to the lack of realistic options being presented to us by our elected leaders.

We will not be forced into bad decisions so a sheriff can build an empire or a politician can win another term. Our resistance to the current jail proposal is not selfish or unreasonable. We simply know a bad idea when we see one.

DENNIS VICKERS, Orange

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