Jail Crisis’ Action Plan

Joy Gilfilen’s ‘Jail Crisis’ Action Plan:

Joy Gilfilen, Candidate for Whatcom County Sheriff disagrees with the incumbent about how to solve the community problem of an inhumane jail. The incumbent has promoted building a new jail for over a decade. Joy’s analysis of the issue shows that he has over-incarcerated citizens to create artificial overcrowding and intentionally neglected repairs to create inhumane conditions to justify his aim. He claims a lack of funding, even as two jail improvement taxes were passed on his watch; then diverted funds for operations and planning to build a jail compound. This year he is pushing to pass taxes to build another maximum security jail to solve the problems he has created over time.

No. The taxpayers said “NO” in 2015. Again “NO” in 2017. The incumbent is still not listening to the voters.

Joy Gilfilen has listened, done the research and has a different goal.

Joy’s Model: No New Taxes. No New Jail. Implement “Prevention First” to stop harming folks in crisis. Of course, Joy will always protect officers and safely hold dangerous offenders in jail. At the same time, Joy will prioritize services that help put people back to work or back in school. We will focus on creating taxpayers, not tax consumers. We will invest in strengthening our community’s future. These actions are good business…they save money, cut costs, reduce high liability overhead and yield a higher quality, safer return on our tax contributions. They build resilience.

Based on nine years of research into the operations of the jail and justice systems administration and after talking with thousands of involved people, Joy identified three core “policy changes” that will define her management style:

  • Jail 1st Aid – Those jailed are in the Sheriff’s custodial care. Joy believes that the Sheriff’s self-labeling of the “inhumane” jail shows the incumbent’s management failure. Joy’s first actions will be to reorganize the Sheriff Department’s use of taxpayer’s assets, cash flow and resources to improve conditions inside the jail. We need to understand the patterns of perpetual trauma, and then reduce harm to detainees, their families, and staff.
  • Streamline pre- and post-arrest procedures by identifying highest cost gaps in performance. Joy has developed an “Optimal Points of Maximum Leverage” model of management that will build on the VERA Institute’s recommendations to prioritize and implement the highest value actions by the Incarceration Prevention & Reduction Task Force (that has now merged with the reactivated Law and Justice Council).
  • Bring citizen oversight and accountability to Corrections – Joy will use the latest research-based innovation to improve transparency, efficiency and results for taxpayers. Corrections will be distanced from law enforcement to resolve embedded conflicts that create dysfunction in management while improving taxpayer accountability.

What is Joy’s Action Plan to stop the “Inhumane Jail” crisis?

Joy says, “Stop living in civic denial. Stop empowering neglect and presumptive bias. As leaders and elders in our community, we must ask different questions: How do we address safety problems at their roots? How can we stop the jail industry’s economic drain to improve community vitality?” How can we get better results overall by NOT passing a tax, and by NOT building a bigger jail? What happened to policies between 1970 and 2014, that the Vera Institute of Justice reported that “the number of people in jail in Whatcom County grew almost nine fold—from 45 to 391 on any given day—while the overall county population only grew two-and-a-half times.”

Why not challenge the initial presumption that law and justice services are only provided post-arrest. Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – it is only logical to implement prevention and diversion programs PRE-arrest. Stop hiring expensive jail consultants. No more tax bailouts, no more fancy, expensive buildings. Let’s just do the hard community work of fixing the problems in the first place. It is a better choice. It provides a better return.

Joy will ensure that we get an honest Needs Assessment and a Mental Health and Civic Safety Net analysis aimed at finding the gaps we need to fill. It takes non-biased facts to reduce incarceration. She will work with community groups to cross examine recommendations and results, using real client input. Unlike the incumbent, Joy will not hire jail building consultants who presume the outcome will be passing taxes and building a new jail as a pre-determined result. Joy wants an unconditional diagnosis that includes evaluating proven jail alternatives that work.

Joy Gilfilen’s “Five Action Steps” to solve the urgent “inhumane jail” crisis!

  • Deep Clean the Maximum Security Jail downtown immediately. Its slovenly conditions are inexcusable. Filth causes depression, illness and distress. Start with some elbow grease, new paint and high quality air filters. Look to the management model in the Juvenile Jail which, notably, is not supervised by the Sheriff. There is no excuse for operating an inhumane facility. We must stop unnecessarily harming people now.
  • Make Program Space – Move the Sheriff’s Office. Joy wants to move most of the Sheriff’s administration out of the jail’s basement to the existing Emergency Operations Center. This will improve call response times, and assist with coordination of crisis management and disaster planning. It will also free up space in the jail, making room for much needed renovations, expanded mental health services, and start reducing trauma to staff, inmates and their families.
  • Use the Maximum Security (212 bed) downtown jail for Maximum Security People. STOP HARMING non-violent, low risk citizens by housing them with high risk criminals. The Maximum Security Jail should only be used to house dangerous cases or the high security mentally ill that require four walls with extreme security to safely live, receive critical services as they await court proceedings. This is a small portion of our jail population. These inmates, if convicted, will usually be transferred to prison or to other state facilities.
  • Refocus the Minimum Security (150 bed) facility towards Restorative Justice. Low risk, non-violent people should be housed in facilities designed to help them get back on their feet and returned to society. We should use more technology like EHM and SCRAM bracelets when possible. This modern jail (often called work release) is underutilized and should become our community restorative justice center. There is extra property on which we can expand and adapt services. This jail would handle misdemeanants and focus on transitional short-stays – a proven, more effective approach. This jail would work with the community on restitution, reconciliation, rehabilitation, recovery, diversion, work release, re-entry and reorientation. The focus is on getting people back into the workforce, reducing recidivism and helping at-risk community members stay out of jail in the first place.
  • Build a Diverse Cooperative Community Safety Net. Make the minimum security jail a one-stop point of connection for services. Coordinate community efforts to provide educational workshops, events and gatherings that help consolidate community efforts toward prevention, conflict reconciliation, family reconnection, employment and education. Create an environment where ideas, strong networks, and collaboration can inspire teamwork on cooperative projects. The facility is surrounded by industrial land that could help support job corps style training, apprenticeships, work release and more.

This all takes work, but solving our ingrained problems will require more than another bandage. It will take time and community collaboration to transition from national vendors toward a network of resilient local service providers. This is our untapped power of community – and the beginning of a new style of corrections that values people above corporations and facilities.

Strengthening our community core can be done with minimum costs and a little legislative action. But it requires a Sheriff who is not fixated on increasing taxes and building a new jail. Joy wants to get people back to work and paying taxes, instead of putting them in jail to become co-dependent tax consumers. Joy will be a forward thinking Sheriff bringing corrections into the 21st century. The opportunity is here and now.

Joy has done the research to understand how to get this done. Her 2015 Taxpayers Report, “Stop Punishing Taxpayers, Start Rebuilding Community” outlines the fundamentals. Her whistleblowing “Noble Cause Corruption Report” goes into deeply disturbing detail. Based on 79 interviews of people directly impacted, Joy’s “Jail Trauma” and “Blindspots” charts outline the types of harm experienced in a system based on punishment, trauma and deprivation. Joy has written a roadmap to community recovery. Go to JoyForSheriff.com for more information.

Paid for by: Joy for Sheriff Campaign ~ 5240 Graveline Rd., Bellingham, WA 98226 ~ 360-922-7976 ~ Page 2 of 2