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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Dec. 6, 2023

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Letter: Homelessness is criminal problem


I’m dismayed by the use of the term “homelessness” in the city of Vancouver’s recent emergency declaration for problems more closely associated with a completely broken criminal justice system that invites people addicted to drugs and/or the mentally ill to live on the streets and push the envelope of bad behavior well beyond what would be tolerated in almost any type of housing and far, far, beyond legal limits.

A direct-supervision jail with built-in mental health and addiction treatment, and behavior modification programs, as options for people that want shorter sentences could substantially fix our local criminal justice system. Those on the left could call it a treatment center, those on the right could call it a work camp. Win-win. Unfortunately, in 2019, our local elected officials found the cost of a similar proposal by a blue-ribbon commission “untenable.”

Clark County’s current jail remodel plan and the city of Vancouver’s emergency order are cheap facades of a durable solution, which would be expensive, but we could redirect funds currently paid to homeless service providers for toxic compassion and NIMBY shaming, and longer-term savings would likely be gargantuan.

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