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The Oxbow Jail

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It makes sense for Salt Lake County to reopen the mothballed Oxbow Jail.

Think about it - the county's newer Adult Detention Facility is often filled to capacity. Sometimes inmates are released early, while others who commit crimes are simply booked and let back out the front door for lack of beds. All the while, just down the street sits an empty, yet fairly modern 560-bed county-owned jail that hasn't been used for nearly six years.

Frankly, it is a curious thing that Oxbow was ever closed. The explanation, of course, was to save money, but it causes us to wonder if politicians past did their homework, as they planned, built and staffed the newer county jail.

Regardless, Salt Lake County has an immediate and apparent ongoing need for more jail space, and Oxbow is standing by.

Naturally, it will come at a hefty cost to taxpayers. The $640,000 recently authorized by the County Council to get the facility ready for reopening is a fraction of the $4.8 million it will cost annually to operate a 184-bed wing. Fighting crime isn't cheap. But if detention is to be a deterrent, you can't have criminals summarily going in one door and out the other.

Oxbow is available. It ought to be used.

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