Today, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee begins mulling over the proposal to allocate $1.25 million in design funds for a badly needed jail in Anne Arundel County. The prognosis is not good, however.
The Anne Arundel County Council voted 5-2 against the site Monday night. The county's Senate delegation is evenly split on the issue. This is partly because County Executive Robert R. Neall didn't brief residents and local politicos on his jail plans.
We hope that this legislative hearing shifts the focus of debate back to where it should be -- on the need for a new lockup. The county's existing Annapolis jail is perpetually overburdened. Population has doubled in the past four years. A planned expansion would take capacity from 559 to 750 beds -- but the jail already has nearly that number of inmates now! By the year 2005, the county's needs are expected to swell to 1,449 beds.