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Oct 12, 2010 8:38 PM by Ariel Wesler

Superior Court Judges back Measure S

Some Superior Court Judges in Santa Barbara County announced today they're supporting Measure "S".

The intiative would impose a half-cent sales tax that would raise money to build another county jail and provide more funding to law enforcement and rehabilitation programs.

One judge called it "the most important vote you can cast on November 2." Judges usually stay impartial on most political issues except for judicial races, but in this case, they say Measure "S" directly impacts the criminal justice system.

Both sides showed up this afternoon at the Betteravia Government Center in Santa Maria to share their views on the controversial Measure S.

Judges say the measure will make the community safer by ending the early release of convicted criminals and extend more help to those criminals with alcohol and drug problems.

Meanwhile, opponents say they're not protesting the need new jail, but rather how to pay for it.

"All of the policies to date have been economic stifling ones. what they need to do is focus on policies that promote growth. Increase the tax base. Don't choke what's left," said Robert Jeffers, a Measure S opponent.

"I really think in the long term that the construction of this facility is going to create, not only create jobs, but it's going to actually reduce crime and it's going to be a cost savings in the long term for our community," said Superior Court Judge Rogelio Flores.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown is leading the charge for Measure S and has support from county supervisors. If passed, the measure would take effect July 1.

The initiative would generate $30 million per year over the next 14 years. Back in 2000, a similar tax increase to build a new north county jail failed on the ballot, winning just 39 percent of the vote.

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