Early voting begins Saturday on Denver’s new jail proposal. The Rocky Mountain News, in an editorial today, outlines the reasons voters should support the measure:

  • The overcrowded holding cells at Denver’s City and County Building, where prisoners on their way to or from court appearances mingle with the general public.
  • The makeshift courtrooms, some hardly bigger than a walk-in closet.
  • The cramped and dingy downtown detention center.
  • The outmoded Smith Road jail, inconveniently distant from courts when prisoners have to be repeatedly transported as their cases progress.
  • And always and everywhere, severe overcrowding. Last week, for example the number of inmates at Smith Road was 2,102; it was built for 1,500.

The Denver Post agrees. From its editorial today, praising Mayor Hickenlooper and his endorsement by Time magazine as one of the country’s top 5 big-city Mayors:

Now let’s put some of that good political capital to use and win a much-needed new jail for Denver, a city with modern aspirations and aging cellblocks.

Hickenlooper is an outspoken advocate for the proposed $378 million justice center, and his popularity should help on Election Day. Hickenlooper so far has been frank with city residents – building jail cells and court facilities wasn’t one of the reasons he ran for mayor. But he knows the project is important for Denver, and he stands ready to defend the considerable price tag.

My prediction: The initiative will pass by a wide margin.