For the second time in two years, Hamilton County voters in Cincinnati killed a plan to raise the sales taxes to pay for a new jail, the Cincinnati Enquire reports. Voters defeated the sales tax increase 56 percent to 44 percent. The margin of defeat for the jail tax narrowed slightly compared to a similar plan on the ballot a year ago. Only 33 percent of voters living in predominately African-American precincts approved the tax; in predominately white precincts, 45 percent approved. Republicans were somewhat more likely to support the tax than Democrats.
NAACP President Christopher Smitherman, who lobbied against the tax, said a second defeat for a jail tax levy should send a strong message to county officials: Look for other ways to fix the problem and, if necessary, to raise money for new facilities. He said opponents favor looking for other ways to ease jail overcrowding and to make the community safer, including expanding home incarceration programs, shortening the wait in jail before a trial and eliminating or trimming jail time for some low-level offenses. “Nobody here is pro-criminal,” Smitherman said. “We want to engage the criminal justice system. We think it’s broken.” The proposition would have increased the sales tax for 15 years, raising $736 million for a 30-year “comprehensive public safety plan.”