S Opposition Not Just for Republicans

I was very disappointed to see the Independent‘s endorsement of Measure S, which would fund the construction of a new county jail. While I agree, as is stated in your endorsement, that there is no “social benefit from jail overcrowding,” your line of reasoning seems to assume that there is a fixed (or growing) population of inherently dangerous “criminals” that need to be contained and punished. Many people incarcerated in the county jail, in fact, have been arrested for minor offenses such as drug possession, panhandling, sleeping in public, sex work, or graffiti—“crimes” whose only real danger is possibly to tourism marketing campaigns.

Rhetoric claiming that Measure S will create a safer Santa Barbara County prompts the question: safer for whom? Certainly not for homeless people, Latina/os, teenagers, individuals struggling with mental health issues, or other populations often targeted by local police. I fear that more space in the jails will simply enable local law enforcement to intensify their frequently racist, classist, “zero tolerance”/”quality of life” policing practices.

The idea presented by Measure S proponents that the jail is bursting at the seams with rapists and murderers is simply not true. The jail is overcrowded, to be sure—a problem that was first identified when it was built in the 1970s. But I am disgusted that jail expansion is being portrayed as the progressive, humane option, supposedly only opposed by Republicans who don’t want to pay taxes. There are more than two voices in this debate. If our system weren’t incarcerating so many people, the jail wouldn’t be overcrowded.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Biggest Storm Since 1/9 Approaching Santa Barbara

The storm system brings increased threat of flash floods and debris flows.

Jack Johnson Tours Montecito Disaster Area Ahead of Benefit Concert

Jack and Kim Johnson met with Bucket Brigade leaders to see the destruction firsthand.

Iron Chef Caused State Street Pedestrian Death

Famous Chef Larry Forgione charged with misdemeanor for driving into Gilbert Ramirez on February 24.

Lavagnino’s Sudden Victory

5th District supervisor a shoo-in as filing window closes; Gregg Hart also unopposed for 2nd District.

One Half of Old Town Streets to Get Sidewalks

Walkways planned for one side of Goleta neighborhood streets; parking, lighting talks at community meeting March 22.