Tuesday, February 23, 2016


President Obama announced today a plan to move the remaining prisoners from the infamous Guantanamo facility and close the jail. Republicans in Congress are already bloviating that they will never allow these prisoners on U.S. soil. Oy!

A facility to house these prisoners has not yet been identified. I volunteer the Wapato Jail in Portland, Oregon, owned and not operated by Multnomah County.

The Wapato Jail was built in 2003 at a cost of $58 million raised by a bond measure passed by voters. A part of the ingenious plan for this jail was to not figure out where to get the money to operate it, and so it has never been used to house criminals. It has been used occasionally to film movies or TV shows. The County spends between $300,000 to $400,000 per year to maintain the empty jail. Since 2003 that amounts to somewhere between $3,600,000 and $4,800,000. Are you astounded? I am.

The Wapato Jail is in a fairly remote location, as shown below. It is surrounded by the Smith and Bybee Lakes Natural Area in the Rivergate Industrial District of north Portland.

I don't think Wapato is classified as a maximum security jail, but it could certainly be modified to meet that classification for a lot less money than what the Multnomah County tax payers are spending now. In fact, if the County offered the facility to the Defense Department, federal money would likely be used to modify and operate it.

This sounds like a win-win to me. I'm going to make a few phone calls and encourage my elected officials to lobby for this.


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