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Concerned about Sheriffs Office profit center approach

Your article on the Columbia County Sheriff's Office budget woes has me a little concerned. Sheriff Dickerson stated: 'The reality is, now, the paying customers are the ones who are going to get the beds,'

Maybe I'm a little confused, but I thought people who were convicted and sentenced to the county jail were 'criminals,' not customers.

It sounds to me that the Sheriff's Office is trying to run their operation as a profit center and not a place to house criminals who commit crimes in Columbia County.

I thought that some part of the taxes we pay to the county, were to pay to keep criminals off our streets and provide the public with some degree of confidence that convicted criminals are incarcerated. I see no difference if they were convicted in circuit court or municipal court.

I have no problem, during a budget crisis, with a 'revolving door jail' for criminals convicted of minor misdemeanors such as property crimes and violations, but when that revolving door starts letting criminals out of jail that committed 'people crimes,' or are a danger to Columbia County taxpayers, I am concerned.

I do agree with Judge Diana Shera Taylor questioning if it's fair to ignore justice for our county's taxpayers in favor of collecting money from the federal government for people who do not live here, did not commit crimes here and who have not burdened our thinly stretched law enforcement officials.

If Sheriff Dickerson is allowed to continue down the path he's outlined, I wonder if new concealed handgun permits will increase? Could those fees be used to keep Columbia County criminals in our jail? Just a thought.

- Roger Beardsley, Columbia City