This May, Lane County voters will decide whether to keep paying roughly $20-plus million per year to keep people in jail cells, right on 5th Avenue in the heart of Eugene at the Lane County Jail.
john a. powell of the Othering and Belonging Institute says that the problem of othering happens when people believe “those people are not fully human, those people don’t belong, we actually don’t see them in their full humanity.”
This leads to practices like locking people up. I might sit in my comfortable house with my family and wish that others who make risky choices, likely because they are in a dire situation, could simply be put behind bars so that my family and I feel safer. I might other those people, and think that could never happen to me — it would help me sleep easier at night, to lessen the humanity of people who are held in jail.
But that approach doesn’t truly solve anything or create a truly thriving community — it simply removes people from any support or resources they have, locks them in cells involuntarily like animals and metes out punishment. If only people could be healed by receiving punishment and isolation! Instead of renewing the jail levy for another five years, let’s start now to build a healthy community. Let’s prioritize funding mental health services, affordable housing, access to healthcare, restorative justice, jobs that pay a living wage, education, etc. Learn more at HealingNotHandcuffs.org and vote “no” on Measure 20-340.