by Linda Deos
It has been two weeks since George Floyd was murdered by four police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the resulting protests have spread across the country and gone global. The authoritarian response from our federal government and many local police departments has been shocking, even to some who have long protested police violence. Jamelle Bouie, writing in the New York Times, shared the following:
Across the country, rioting police are using tear gas in quantities that threaten the health and safety of demonstrators, especially in the midst of a respiratory disease pandemic.
None of this quells disorder. Everything, from the militaristic posture to the attacks themselves, does more to inflame and agitate protesters than it does to calm the situation and bring order to the streets. In effect, rioting police have done as much to stoke unrest and destabilize the situation as those responsible for damaged buildings and burning cars. But where rioting protesters can be held to account for destruction and violence, rioting police have the imprimatur of the state. Read More
Here in Yolo County, as we have come together by staying apart these past few months to protect our community from the threat of coronavirus, now is the perfect time to ask ourselves, what does public safety actually mean?
Is it more important to hire more sheriff deputies, house indigent suspects in jail for months simply because they can’t afford bail, purchase expensive equipment, push for long sentences for non-violent crimes, maintain a youth jail with an average of six occupants while investing millions in expanding our two main jails, or are there better ways to ensure both the safety and overall health of our community?
UC Davis students lead protest
It seems clear, particularly during a global pandemic, that to truly protect the health and safety of residents requires a real investment in support services for families, seniors, young people and our most vulnerable residents, not simply more men with guns.
In the last few days, the Mayor of Los Angeles has proposed cutting the budget for the LAPD by over $100 million in order to fund more community services. We should be this bold right here in Yolo County.
But right now, there is no leadership moving Yolo County in this direction. Just last month the Yolo County Cannabis Tax Citizen’s Oversight Committee was presented with the plan for how our county proposes to spend the anticipated $1.2 million the county receives from the county cannabis tax (Measure K) we passed in June 2018.
Along with money allocated to the General Fund, the county proposed allocating $150,000 for law enforcement, up from $70,000 last year, $0 for early childhood education, down from $100,000 last year and $0 for youth development, down from $100,000 last year. As a member of this Committee, I was shocked and disturbed that children and youth were sacrificed for the benefit of law enforcement.
It currently costs an average of about $81,000 per year to incarcerate an inmate in prison in California. Due to COVID and the Statewide Emergency ‘0’ Bail Schedule, Yolo County released 117 people from our jail. And of these 117 people released, less than 10 percent have been re-arrested for a subsequent crime.
If Yolo County simply committed to maintaining $0 bail moving forward, permanently reducing our jail population of people simply awaiting trial, the county could potentially save several million dollars a year that could be invested in more support services…and this is just a start.
We are still in the beginnings of a global pandemic that is likely to last for a year or longer. Over the coming months, I want to lead a debate on how we can create a People’s Budget for Yolo County that puts the overall health of community residents at the fore. Please join me in this conversation.
Linda Deos is an attorney and candidate for Yolo County Board of Supervisors, District 4.
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