County jail to house 32 more criminals

March 25th, 2011    Author: Brett A. Roller    Filed Under: News

Applications being accepted for jailers

Clermont County criminals will be start spending their time behind bars sooner rather than later after the Clermont County Commissioners approved funding for an additional 32 beds at the Clermont County Jail.

“Because of a lack of jail beds, a number of individuals have been re-cited to court instead of being arrested,” Commissioner Ed Humphrey said. “We appreciate and commend the county judicial system for keeping the county safe over the past few years, while working within their budget with fewer jail beds. However, the time has come to reopen the beds.”

Currently the jail has been turning away 20 to 25 non-violent offenders a month due to lack of space. The offenders are placed on a waiting list which included 72 offenders Monday, March 21 and Sheriff A.J. “Tim” Rodenberg said the list was lengthening.

“It waxes and wanes so it’s hard to get an exact number (of names on the waiting list) but I know in years past it’s been up to 500 and we’ve whittled it down over time,” Rodenberg said.

The Sheriff said offenders do not always come off the list because they have made it into the jail.

“We work with the judges on trying to get them off the list,” Rodenberg said. “Sometimes a judge will reduce a sentence.”

The jail has a capacity of 512 beds but no more than 220 are currently used due to a lack of funds for operating costs. The county has never used more than 340 of the beds since the facility opened. The 32 bed increase will cost the county $580,000 a year and Rodenberg said that number would likely increase with inflation and wage increases over the coming years. To bring the jail up to full capacity would cost the county an additional $1.5 million a year.

“It’s a bitter pill we have to swallow for a better society, for a safer society,” Rodenberg said.

Clermont County administrator Dave Spinney said the commissioners have decided to fund the increased cost, estimated at $218,750 from August through December, from the general fund balance for this year and will review the appropriations next year.

Reopening a 32 bed “Super Max Pod” at the jail will reduce some of the strain on corrections department and judicial system, but is not a permanent solution, according to Rodenberg.

“This is a stop gap, it’s not something we can look at and say now the problem’s solved,” Rodenberg said.

At the same time he and the Clermont County Municipal Court Judges are very glad to have the additional space. Judges Anthony Brock, James Shriver, and Ken Zuk told the commissioners in a letter that incarceration is a necessary deterrent and without it the justice system is less effective.

The lack of space is something the county’s incarceration committee, comprised of the Sheriff, judges, and commissioners, has been discussing for quite some time. Rodenberg said the re-opening of 32 beds is a direct result of Commissioner Archie Wilson’s efforts.

“Wilson from day one has had made a higher priority of adequate public safety,” Rodenberg said.

Wilson said it is important for criminals to know they are not welcome in Clermont County.

“If they need to be in jail, they should be in jail,” Wilson said. “I have been a victim of crime and know firsthand, that people need to feel safe in their own homes. If they do the crime, they should do the time.”

Rodenberg said his office will be accepting applications for high quality corrections officers until April 1. More information is available on the Sheriff’s website at www.clermontsheriff.org/.

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