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STOP FUTILE DELAYS OVER JAIL SITE

SHARE STOP FUTILE DELAYS OVER JAIL SITE

Five weeks after the South Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously to appeal its Salt Lake County jail site battle to the Utah Supreme Court, council members changed course once again and voted 3-2 to drop the matter. That's a relief. The whole issue has been an unnecessary exercise in delay and futility.

Unfortunately, construction of the badly needed jail facility faces more delay. Immediately after the vote, opponents of the jail site said they would seek another opinion from the city's Board of Adjustment.How long that will take is anybody's guess, but the matter ought to be expedited as much as possible. Every additional day without the new jail only increases the problems of the existing overcrowded jail and the law enforcement problems such overcrowding raises.

The county has sought for months to construct a 360-bed, work farm style jail facility on county-owned property at 3300 South near the Jordan River to house misdemeanor offenders. Last May, county voters approved a $12 million bond issue for the jail.

The existing jail in central Salt Lake City is so overcrowded that many lawbreakers are released without being jailed. And a lawsuit has been filed against the crowded conditions.

While conditions call for rapid action, the response by South Salt Lake to the jail proposal has turned into an on-again, off-again soap opera.

The city's Planning and Zoning Commission recommended against the jail site, but the City Council approved it in a narrow decision. Later, without any apparent justification, the council reversed itself and withdrew the conditional use permit needed to build the facility.

County officials appealed to 3rd District court and a judge ruled that the council had unjustifiably changed its mind without any new evidence to back it up. It was an appeal of that decision - which the city's own lawyers said had little chance of success - that was abandoned this week.

Let's end the obstructionism so that the county can deal with the serious problems of jail space, prisoners. The longer the delays last, the more expensive the jail becomes and the more it is going to cost every taxpayer in Salt Lake County.