If Billings Needs a Bigger Jail…What About This?
One of the challenges in Montana's largest city is the fact that the jail is overcrowded. This was a challenge before the pandemic. This is a challenge after the pandemic, especially after the COVID lockdown-inspired drug and crime spike all across the country.
As a result, many criminals are left out on the streets instead of behind bars. Will the county fund another jail expansion? Why don't we go Sheriff Arpaio on these thugs and throw them in temporary make shift tent jails if we have to? Those are some of the questions I get from our listeners when I run into them out across town.
Here's another idea that just came to mind after chatting with some guys earlier this morning. We were talking about downtown crime. We were talking about the transients downtown. And, we got to talking about how empty the big Billings Gazette building has been of late. "Didn't you hear that building is for sale?" I asked them. "Really?" They asked. Yep.
As The Billings Gazette reported on their own website:
The entire top floor of the 94,000 square-foot building, which once housed the paper's circulation and accounting departments, is now largely empty. The accounting department was the last to move out two years ago when its services were consolidated out of state by Lee Enterprises, the Gazette's owner since 1959.
The ground floor houses the Gazette's newsroom and advertising department, both of which have significantly condensed over the last decade through retirements and buyouts.
So that got us thinking...man- if the county and the city needs space to put all those downtown criminals- looks like there's space available. Should we convert the Billings Gazette building?
By the way, The Great Falls Tribune building in Great Falls is for sale too. And that is some nice Missouri River riverfront property.