More action needed to update county jails

September 5, 2013 

>The decision by the Merced County Board of Supervisors to move ahead with a new jail is a good first step, but there are many more to take before anything gets built.

The sooner the county gets going, the sooner a six-story jail complex can replace the two old jails, the Sandy Mush complex and the Main Jail.

Predictably, funding is an issue. Merced is counting on getting $40 million from the state through Senate Bill 1022, which set aside $500 million for correctional facilities statewide. Merced will have to compete with 14 other medium-size counties for the money. Even if it is successful in getting state money, the county will have to come up with $28 million.

The need is real. The old facilities pose risks to inmates and staff. Escapes and attacks by inmates are all too common.

Yes, there's another election coming up.

If you're not aware there's an election coming up, you will be soon. Signs are going up; candidates are starting to walk precincts.

Election Day is 66 days away, though we know that many people don't wait that long. They'll be voting by mail in October. For those who have moved or never registered to vote, there are 51 days to accomplish that task. Oct. 21 is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 5 election.

There's always higher interest in the national elections, especially when we're voting for president. But arguably the purely local elections, like those held in odd numbered years, are more important.

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