The Pima County Board of Supervisors agreed yesterday to postpone their decision about the future of the Pima County Jail.

The Blue Ribbon Commission, which was created in early 2023, recently released a 300-page report that detailed the poor conditions inside.

The Commission reached five possible conclusions, but deemed three “not feasible,” leaving just two possible suggestions to fix the conditions:

1. Spend $650 million on repairs within the jail to fix existing issues and build new housing units.

2. Spend around $850 million to build an entirely new jail.

The Board of Supervisors decided to pass on both suggestions, kicking the proverbial can down the road to a meeting on March 5.

County Administrator Jan Lesher presented three recommendations to the Board based on the Blue Ribbon Commission’s findings.

1. Contract a third party consultant to assess jail conditions and make recommendations

2. Establish a new commission to make alternative suggestions for improvements.

3. Create a county finance working group.

Lesher said she’ll return to the Board of Supervisors hearing room in March with a charter for the commission on possible improvements along with a short list for the consultant.

District Four Supervisor Steve Christy, the only Supervisor to vote against the commissioner roster, acknowledged the Commission members for their work, but, wondered why they couldn’t come up with a solution or decide between the two recommendations.

“After all this time with the Blue Ribbon Commission, all their time, effort and energy expended to come up with some kind of a solution to address the jail situation,” he said. “They did not.”

He asked why there wasn’t a third-party consultant to begin with. He also asked why the finance group and an additional committee weren’t established from the beginning.

Several constituents in the crowd were relieved by the postponement. Volunteers and representatives from the No New Jails Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and Just Communities Arizona spoke during the “Call to Action” section of the Board Meeting.

Volunteer community organizer Liz Casey has more than eight years of social work experience. She said that the money that would have been spent on construction should go to local social services.

The focus really needs to be on investing in community care and prevention to address the root causes of crime so we dont have to put people in the jail in the first place,” she said.

Caroline Isaacs, the Executive Director of Just Communities Arizona, said her organization is “dedicated to finding community-based alternatives to punishment in all its forms.”

She nailed down the two problems the Blue Ribbon Commission were focusing on: failing jail infrastructure and not enough beds.

“The solution to all of these problems is to depopulate the jail,” she said. “We are putting people in jail who do not need to be there. That’s not in the service of the people of this community, it’s not in the service of their families and it’s not in the service of any correctional objective.”