In a significant shift, the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition agreed to support the proposal to renovate the Dane County Jail, provided the city agreed to an amendment.
Two Dane County committees voted Tuesday to pass the recently controversial proposal to renovate the Dane County jail.
Although community members have raised concerns at previous meetings of the Dane County Public Protections and Judiciary Committee, they spoke in support of the proposal with one new, major amendment.
Before entering the meeting to give public testimony, Young, Gifted and Black Coalition organizer Eric Upchurch spoke to community members to reiterate their goals — no new jail and support the increase of community-led initiatives.
“We support the resolution, with the amendment that says we’re not going to build a new jail,” Upchurch said.
Before marching up to the third floor of the City County Building, protesters chanted, “build the people, not the jail.”
The new amendment, proposed by County Supervisor Leland Pan, District 5, removed the entirety of Section 4 from the original proposal. Section 4 outlined long-term planning for Dane County jail renovations and was subject of protesters’ main concerns.
After hearing testimony from a considerably fewer community members than their last meeting, the committee brought the proposal up for discussion.
While the issue of human safety and well-being continued to be a main focus of committee members, Pan fought for his amendment on behalf of the community.
Pan said it doesn’t make sense to put a large amount of money into a long-term study when communities who are active on the issue at hand don’t want it. He stressed the importance of listening to the people and noted the consequences of doing the opposite.
“It puts us at odds with an engaged community,” Pan said. “It puts us at odds with communities disproportionately affected.”
Pan’s amendment to the proposal was met with scrutiny from committee members.
Committee Chair Paul Rusk said Pan’s amendment was too restrictive and said the committee should take time to explore their options.
In the almost hour-long discussion, the committee evaluated many other possible options. However, in a 4-3 vote, the committee passed Pan’s amendment.
The proposal itself, as amended, also passed in a 5-2 vote.
The county’s Health and Human Needs Committee also voted on the same jail proposal and passed it unanimously with amendments.
The Public Protection and Judiciary Committee also passed approval on two county initiatives to combat racial disparity.
The first was a proposal to to make drivers licenses more accessible, which passed in a unanimous vote and one abstention.
The second was a proposal to lower ticket prices for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The current ticket amounts vary greatly between cities, ranging from $60 in Madison to $1,000 in Fitchburg. The approved proposal will lower fines to $10 for possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana.