To the editor

Thoughts on a new jail:

With all the discussion about where to build a new jail, I think we’re missing the point. Yes, our jail is overcrowded, but we do not need a new jail. We need a residential treatment center. Over 90% of the jail population is there because of drug addiction. We will never be able to build enough jail space to get rid of addiction. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we will keep being asked to build bigger jails. Is this really the industry we want? Is this the community we want?

No. We want a healthy community, where people get the help they need. We don’t have to lock up addicts first so that they want treatment. It is through treatment that addicts find ways to overcome their addiction. And they can’t get adequate treatment without a secure place to live, decent food, counseling, medication and hope for a future. That isn’t a 30-day program, or a $85/week ankle monitor. It is residential treatment for as long as it takes — with release to half-way houses and 3/4 houses and opportunities for jobs. It’s more addiction counselors and decent affordable housing. It’s help for families affected by addiction. None of what we need to solve the addiction problem in Madison requires a bigger jail.

Let’s put that money into re-opening the addiction units at the state hospital. Let’s train and hire more addiction counselors. Let’s admit that addiction is a problem in our community. It’s time to try a new approach.

Jan Vetrhus

Madison, Indiana