Aleksey Gurtovoy, 3 April 2013
On Nov. 6, 2012 the voters of Johnson County defeated a public measure to fund construction of a new jail in downtown Iowa City. Named in the best traditions of doublespeak, the so-called “Justice Center” proposal would have enabled erecting a monstrous jail/courthouse conglomerate right in the heart of the city, cost the taxpayers $48.1 million, and increased the total number of jail beds to 243 — a more than two-fold increase in capacity.
The proposal had the official endorsement of Johnson County Democrats and virtually everyone else in the establishment. It also was the subject of a full-blown, six-month-long marketing campaign (sponsored largely by local attorneys, with significant contributions from the county officials themselves) that included everything from yard signs, to “grassroot” postcards, to Facebook ads.
Jeff Cox, 1 January 2013
The successful campaign to defeat the new Johnson County jail produced unusual political alliances. The small Vote No committee included libertarians, Republican central committee members, Trotskyites, AARP officers, and a few aging Democrats with civil liberties sympathies. On the other side was the entire Democratic Party in Johnson County, including all local elected officials who took a position with the honorable exception of city council member Jim Throgmorton.
23 April 2013
Video recording of the public forum on jail alternatives we held on April 23rd, 2013: