When does it end in Arkansas? When do we finally realize that being one of the top incarcerators in the nation is decimating our families. We can stop this harmful system from expanding together.
END JAIL EXPANSION NOW
Washington County AR
Despite voters in November 2022 saying no to a sales tax increase to expand into a $114 million jail, many of the justices voted (December 2022) to use COVID relief monies to expand the jail through 2 ordinances despite the federal treasury guidance that this is an ineligible use of these monies.
What actions can be taken?
Challenge ordinances by referendum ballot measure (details below)
Exploring other avenues for challenging what appears to be an ineligible use of ARPA/COVID relief funds
In Arkansas we have a form of “Direct Democracy” referred to as “Referendum.” Ark. Const. Amendment 7 This powerful tool empowers the rank-and-file of everyday citizens - that’s us - to check the power of our legislative bodies when their decisions don’t reflect our values, or when they go against the will of the people.
A Referendum Petition refers an act (or ordinance) passed by the state or local legislative body to a vote by the people for approval or rejection.
On November 8, 2022, Washington County voters soundly defeated a proposal to build a $113,500,000 jail expansion. We, the people, spoke and said “No!” to using our tax dollars to expand the jail.
Yet, on December 15, 2022, the Washington County Quorum Court decided to go against the will of the majority and they passed two Ordinances, to-wit:
ORDINANCE NO. 2022-123: An Ordinance Appropriating a Total of $8,812,332.75 from the American Rescue Plan Act Fund (3046) to American Rescue Budget for 2023. &
ORDINANCE NO. 2022-124: An Ordinance Appropriating $10,000,000 from the ARPA Revenue Replacement Fund (1006) To The Buildings Line Item (4002) In The ARPA Revenue Replacement Budget for 2023.
These two ordinances will use $18,812,332.75 of our American Rescue Plan Act dollars to expand the Washington County Detention Center to add more jail beds, yet no provisions are made for the ongoing expense of maintaining and operating this larger jail. We already pay $18M for jail M&O. The increased jail capacity will add millions to that.
The QC has completely ignored recommendations by experts to reduce our jail overcrowding, including pretrial services, mental health court, expanded drug and veterans courts, drug addiction and mental health treatment facilities, a sobering center, all of which cost a fraction of the $18,812,332.75.
Your signature on this Referendum Petition will allow us – the citizens of Washington County to have an election, another election, and specifically vote to overturn these two ordinances and restore the will of the people and to use the money to make our community safer and better for everyone.
After the defeat of the sales tax in November 2022, Benton County Jude Moehring and the Quorum Court have established a committee to look further at the criminal legal system and the detention center for possible solutions. This is a step in the right direction. As things develop, we will add to this space. To follow the calendar of events in Benton County that would give up to the minute information. Click the link below.
WASHINGTON COUNTY VOTERS:
WE NEED 8,000 SIGNATURES. WHERE CAN YOU SIGN THE PETITION?
Every Saturday until our Feb 21st deadline from 9am to 5pm drive thru at St Paul's church at the corner of Dickson & College in Fayetteville (across from the courthouse)
Fayetteville Farmer's Winter Market Saturdays located at the Senior Center by Walker Park 11am to 2pm
By Request. We come to you, your church group, your book club, your work place. Click the link to request