It has recently been announced that Tulsa will be faced with the choice of a tax increase on April 1st.
Tulsa County voters will go to the polls on April Fool’s Day to decide the fate of a new 15-year 0.067-percent sales tax increase to fund a new juvenile center and expansion of the jail. The three Tulsa County commissioners rejected the notion of using millions of dollars in surplus funds from the existing Vision 2025 sales tax and opted instead to advocate a new sales tax of .0.026 percent for four new pods on the county jail and 0.041 percent for a new juvenile center. – Tulsa BeaconContinue Reading Here
Since first hearing this, I’ve been exposed to even more information that makes me wary of this proposed tax increase. But before I get into any of the nitty gritty details, I’d first like to tell you a story…
I was a bright-eyed and adventurous young boy at the age of 11, and many times I could be found out in my yard setting up a fort in the bushes, or somesuch other spontaneous fun I could come up with in my spare time. One day, I found myself getting curious about what the neighbors’ dogs were up to on the other side of our privacy fence, or wanted to annoy them or something, so I decided to find a way to see what I could see. Scanning the yard, I spied the good ‘ol sturdy table that goes next to the barbeque grill, and a lightbulb went off.
Once I’d dragged the table over to the fence, I was able to stand atop it and feel like Wilson from Home Improvement and peek over. I stood there for a minute or two probably when suddenly the table just seemed to disappear right from under me. I of course went with it, and before I knew it my hand was coming back from my knee wet with blood.
The remainder of that night was spent in the emergency room getting 5 stitches because of my little tumble, which I might add was not very fun.
I’ll get to why that story matters in a bit, but first let’s get back to this proposed tax increase on April Fools.
The jails in Tulsa have been over-crowded for some time now, and something must be done of course, but is a tax increase the right solution? Solutions are things that interest me, so I’ve done some studying on them. One of the first things I learned about finding a solution was that you must first identify the problem and understand what exactly is causing it. Just like a doctor who cures the ailment and not the symptoms, we also can be effective through understanding certain things.
Another Liberty on Tap blogger David Van Risseghem, chimes in on the topic as well…
If even half of the mental illness victims currently being treated at Oklahoma’s jails were able to get treatment at a community treatment center, there would be no need for expanding our current jails… Continue Reading Here
It’s awful to think that there are innocent people being jailed for something that they cannot prevent such as their illness. Jail is a place for criminals, and punishing people for a victimless “crime” by locking them in a cage is not an appropriate human response.
Another victimless crime that is filling our jails at an unprecedented rate is failure to pay fines. Attorney James Wirth goes a bit more in depth here,
Overcrowded jails present myriad problems for inmates and for the public. Simply housing an inmate costs taxpayers around $50 a day. The Tulsa World reported in November that 6,400 inmates had been booked in the past two years for failure to pay fines – a 12 percent increase since 2009. If each was held only one day, that’s $350,000 in debtors prison costs. If each indebted inmate spent just three days in jail, that’s a million dollars spent on a Tulsa debtors prison in the past two years. Continue Reading Here
So from the sound of it, Tulsa County has these money pits called jails, and in order to make the money pit bigger so they can throw more money in it, they need to borrow some more money (over a period of fifteen years).
I heard it said by a powerful communicator recently that “Doubt is your walking stick; it will lead you to the truth”. When I first started to hear about this proposed tax increase, I doubted that it was necessary. Now after some research, I have found that not only is a tax increase not necessary, it would just be plain foolish.
For those who have concerns about public safety and keeping criminals off the streets, I sympathize with you too. We should be keeping violent criminals off the streets, but kidnapping and imprisoning human beings who have done nothing to harm anyone is not a solution. Not only is it agitating the real issues of violent crime, it grows the problem by putting non-violent people in a violent environment. Even worse, it makes those who fund, take part in, and allow this to continue, become the real aggressors against humanity.
Once an individual is out of jail, whether violent or not, the fact that they now have a criminal record makes it nearly impossible to find steady employment. This is a system that creates dependence from its victims and feeds the coffers of all involved in the prison industry with your tax dollars.
Now I’ve done some stupid things before, just like I’m sure you have. I’ve fallen off a table and had to get stitches, I’ve said things to people that I shouldn’t have, and I’ve messed up on a large scale many times. Humans make mistakes, and that’s part of our nature. It’s how we learn, all the way from stumbling around learning to walk, to failing job interviews until you finally land one. We should give a little grace to others who mess up, including ourselves. Most importantly we should learn not to do stupid things. Even more preferable, we should learn to not do stupid things from other people’s mistakes, because it’s a lot less painful.
The answer to our jail problem is not a tax increase. The solution does not lie in making room to imprison more sick and poor people. The answer can be found in being not soft on crime, but smart on crime. By allowing our police officers to disregard non-violent offenders, we free them up to make our streets safer of the real criminals.
Don’t be fooled, Vote NO on April 1st.
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