Letters to the Editor

Homelessness: Jail a viable option for some

Re: “Open part of jail to homeless, County Council member says,” (TNT, 1/13).

Pam Roach deserves credit for shining a light on our regional homeless problem. Although most do not belong in our jail, we need better management of our homeless population.

Most homeless people are in at least one of these categories: mentally ill, disabling drug dependent, down on their luck, and homeless as a lifestyle.

We need to help the mentally ill. We need to help the drug dependent, if they’re willing to strive to beat their addiction. We need to help people in extreme poverty circumstances with job training.

The last category, the lifestyle-homeless population, must be closely monitored. Authorities should keep them off public and private lands with an eye toward preventing the tremendous mess that many make, which must be cleaned up at taxpayer expense.

A “ carrots and sticks” approach is needed that rewards positive behavior but in some cases requires use of our jail for extreme or repeat violations.

Regional management of the homeless is needed. It is not enough to provide turkey dinners at Thanksgiving and blankets when it is freezing cold.

(Masko is a retired 38-year employee of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department who served as jail chief for four years and retired as undersheriff.)

Robert Masko, University Place

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