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Guest opinion: Bond to build Weber Justice Center a smart use of tax dollars

By Kathie Darby and Laura Warburton - | Sep 20, 2023

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A rendering of the proposed Weber Justice Center at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Depot Drive in Ogden. The new facility is a key part of the proposed upgrade of the Weber County jail, focus of a $98 million bond question to go to voters on Nov. 21, 2023.

Greetings, fellow Weber County residents.

We are excited to share our support of the upcoming bond issue that we’ll be voting for in the November general election. Please join us in voting in favor of the Weber Justice Center bond.

What is a bond and how does it help the Weber Justice Center?

A bond is a low- or no-interest loan to a public entity. It allows the proposed project to be built immediately and repaid over a predetermined time.

What is the Weber Justice Center and why do they need our help?

Photo supplied

Kathie Darby

First, we have a Weber County Sheriff’s Complex that consists of several buildings. Just to name a few, there are the administrative offices, the jail, the medical facility, the training rooms and CSI. The Weber Justice Center will be a new building built at the Sheriff’s Complex on land that is already owned by the county.

Why do we need this new building?

This is where we start to get really excited. Let’s discuss recidivism. What is recidivism? Recidivism is one of the most fundamental concepts in criminal justice. It refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime. Recidivism is an ongoing battle in the justice system. According to World Population Review, Utah has a recidivism rate of 46%. That means 46% of all incarcerated citizens will return to incarceration. That presents a very troubling picture. Not only does recidivism contribute to increased suicide rates among the incarcerated, it also destroys families.

Recidivism reduction is an ongoing and complex discussion. Yet, we feel the proposed Weber Justice Center will be a great boost in lowering recidivism rates and here is why.

How will the new building help?

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Laura Warburton

There will be free rooms available for accessible and appropriate local nonprofits to offer a variety of resilience training to every willing inmate. This will give them the opportunity to leave with necessary life skills to be productive citizens, thus reducing recidivism and in turn improving lives of Weber County citizens. The new building will allow more space for medical needs, reducing the need for transport to hospitals and more space for those who come in with mental health concerns. All of this enables our tax dollars to be utilized more efficiently. There will be more space for inmates, thus reducing crowding, which will reduce jail violence. Another significant funding cost is transporting inmates to their court hearings, at times at significant distances. The bond will fund a state-of-the-art video conferencing center that will allow court hearings to be done from the center. Once again, this will reduce costs, which then allows our tax dollars to be more efficiently allocated. This plan is so tax efficient that the sheriff’s office is not asking for additional operational funds to run the new facility. To sum it up, our taxes will simply be spent more humanely and efficiently by adding this facility.

How much will this cost us?

Less than the price of an expensive hot drink; on average, it will cost $4.51 each month per household.

For those of us who are concerned about another tax, let us just say, we are not in favor of greater taxes. We are in favor of smarter taxes. We are a community. Communities come together to take care of their own. This falls on us to take care of. The state of Utah won’t pay for it. The federal government won’t pay for it. This is Weber County business. We think it’s good business.

Please vote with us in favor of the Weber Justice Center bond on the ballot in the November general election.

For more information, visit https://webercountyutah.gov/weberjusticecenter.

Kathie Darby is the Roads to Independence board chair, a prior Ogden City diversity commissioner, an OWCAP Executive Board member, and serves on YCC and OCAN committees. Laura Warburton is the director of Live Hannah’s Hope.org.


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