A “yes” vote for the $59 million public safety center is not a wise vote to help us have a safer, healthier community.

Investing in a building supporting a broken system that incarcerates mental health patients is not the solution to crime. A $59 million investment in social rehabilitation programs modeled after those in Halden, Norway or Punta de Rieles in Uruguay and others, would be a wise use of funding if we want to help build up the lives of those who have themselves suffered from abuse, neglect, poverty, addictions, and have wound up in a criminal justice system, which penalizes them not only by taking way their freedom, but by putting them in jails/prisons and routines that serve to increase anxiety, disconnectedness and mental health issues.

One in 31 or seven million U.S. adults are bound up in the correctional system, with more than 2.4 million incarcerated, more than in any other country. These numbers will only continue to increase if we continue with business as usual, which we have now come to understand is not only not working, but is inhumane as well.

When examples of prisons/programs with 3% recidivism rates exist, yet we continue to watch a segment of our youth be dragged into systems with 60-90% recidivism rates, and continue to fund those systems, we have to seriously question ourselves. For an inmate to receive no access to fresh air or sunlight or fresh, healthy foods is inhumane when these are things that would help them be well, yet this is the state of the art Gallatin County Detention Center. While we fund buildings, drug testing, and inmates waiting in cells for underfunded treatment programs, prison for profit system thrives.

When will all the victims of this system be funded equally?

Wren Kilian