Editorial: Jail annex inevitable
Laurels to Rowan County Commissioners for moving forward to build more jail space in the form of an annex away from downtown Salisbury. Cases moving through Rowan courts and people going in and out of the Detention Center have escalated in number over the past decade. It might seem more convenient to expand near the existing jail downtown, but the county says property is too expensive there. Besides, the current jail already looms over too much of the downtown area, and an expansion would likely face opposition. Cabarrus County knows how fierce that kind of fight can be; it spent years in a legal battle with people who did not want a new jail near their historic Concord buildings; the $58 million project finally won commissioners’ approval last August. Now Cabarrus faces space needs for its courthouse ó sound familiar? ó and has been advised by one study to tear down the courthouse and build a new one for $51.6 million. Rather than tackle that, Cabarrus commissioners are buying time by moving some offices at a cost of $2.5 million. Will the day ever come when the region needs fewer courtrooms and less jail space?
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Dart to Patrick Burris’ killing spree in South Carolina and the release from jail that enabled him to run amok. The complete story of this tragedy died with Burris Monday in a shootout in Gastonia, but bits and pieces have come out. Career criminal. Known for bullying and intimidating people. Paroled from a N.C. prison this spring. Planning to get married. Caught driving without a license. Fearful of going back to prison. Boom. Five people dead. This illustrates why we need to keep building those expensive jails; some people just belong behind bars. Overcrowding can pressure officials to release inmates. Our society will never succeed in preventing every once-incarcerated criminal from breaking the law again and again. But inmates with a violent past like Burris hardly deserve early release.
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Laurels to Arc of Rowan for building apartments where people who are developmentally disabled can live on their own. Two complexes opened recently ó The Shores on South Fulton Street and Freedom House on East 15th Street ó and already have a waiting list. Among the tenants are young men just graduated from high school and eager to start life on their own, lives that can be long and productive. They may be disabled, but that does not dampen their desire to work and get on with life. These complexes are a form of subsidized housing, built through the efforts of the Arc of North Carolina and the federal government; tenants pay 30 percent of their incomes. The Arc units fill a crucial void for disabled people who do not need the close supervision of a group home but are not ready to live in and pay for housing completely on their own. This is not a one-size-fits-all-world and there’s no one-kind-fits-all housing. Laurels to Arc for recognizing and filling this special need.
Most of us are familiar with the old expressions: Look before you leap; a stitch in time saves nine; if... read more