Terry Lawson formally announces his candidacy for Sheriff of Coconino County.
As a community and as a public safety system, we need to address the problem of acute alcohol abuse and the societal concerns associated with this issue in a pro-active and effective manner. We currently spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and tons of public and private resources managing the problem of intoxicated individuals in our community. This is an often controversial and contentious topic, but one that must be worked through effectively due to the serious and potentially negative impact it presents. The discussions of a detoxification center and treatment services have been facilitated by a dedicated group of community-minded stakeholders, but these meetings have produced no tangible results or solutions to date. These forums should continue, but move toward better collaboration and a solution-oriented approach. There needs to be a direction established and resources applied to this critical, quality of life community issue.
The response to the plight of the mentally ill and the resultant impact on Jail population, criminal activity and other community concerns is an issue not unique to northern Arizona, but is problematic to our nation as a whole. We have a group of responsive and compassionate professionals in our community who work hard to deliver services and treatment to these members of our society, but they are hampered by a multitude of obstacles including bureaucratic red tape, lack of resources and inadequate funding. We need to be creative in eliminating the barriers that prohibit the effective delivery of resources to those with emotional disorders and seek out alternative sources of funding to enhance the services we can provide.
We must initiate a program of violence prevention and education within our Jail facility to address the issues of Domestic Violence and other forms of abuse. We have many people incarcerated from our community for offenses of this nature and we currently have no internal program in place to begin the process of rehabilitation for these perpetrators. Models exist throughout our nationís Jails that can be replicated or modified to meet our local needs and make a positive impact on this issue.
We need to expand basic educational opportunities for inmates at the County Jail, including reading, writing, and G.E.D. tutoring. Numerous studies have proven that advanced levels of education tend to reduce the incidence of recidivism among offenders and promote positive ideals and esteem by program participants.
We must subsidize and expand the delivery of Probation services as alternatives to incarceration. There are a multitude of models available to emulate including day reporting centers, counseling and treatment services, work furlough programs, community service opportunities, pre-trial services and electronic monitoring of non-violent offenders. These innovative and creative programs can be implemented in our community, however, to be effective we must make a commitment of improved funding and staffing for our Probation department.top