Today I received a letter from John Hickenlooper, mayor of Denver, urging me to vote on May 3rd for a ballot initiative that would significantly expand Denver's courtrooms and jails. Granted, it was a mass mailing on behalf of Citizens for a Safe Denver, but it was a letter just the same, so I've sent him the following reply:
Dear Mr. Mayor:
Your recent letter regarding the upcoming vote on a new Justice Center struck a chord with me. While I respect your opinion that expanded courtrooms and jails are needed, I cannot help but wonder if the city has investigated all other options. For instance, anecdotal evidence indicates that many of those incarcerated in the city and county jails are non-violent offenders who have been booked for victimless crimes such as prostitution and drug use. My considered opinion is that it would be much more productive to find alternative approaches to truly helping such people than to continue wasting valuable jail space and courtroom time on putting them behind bars.
According to your letter, last year you "appointed a task force of community members, business leaders and local experts to review the situation and make recommendations for improvements"; I challenge you to do the same on efforts to find lasting solutions that will improve both the city and the lives of those in need, rather than just sending them through the same old revolving door of court appearances and jail time.
Peter Saint-Andre > Journal