Personnel shift keeps jail open
Four deputies will go back to the sheriff's department.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County's sheriff and juvenile court judge have struck a deal that could keep the county's minimum-security jail open.
Judge Theresa Dellick of juvenile court has agreed to give up four of the 11 deputy sheriffs who have been assigned to provide court security for the past year. Those deputies will be returned to the sheriff's main staff.
Sheriff Randall Wellington said the move was initiated by Judge Dellick, and he'd like to see similar cooperation from other county officials.
"We're just trying to be as cooperative as we can be in this time of budget crisis," said Eva Burris, court administrator.
Wellington has announced plans to lay off about 57 deputies March 3 because of budget cuts imposed by county commissioners. Because of the anticipated staffing shortage, he's also said he would close the minimum-security jail, located at Fifth Avenue and Commerce Street.
The 100 or so inmates kept in that jail are serving time for nonviolent crimes. They were to be moved into the main jail across Fifth Avenue.
But with the deputies' being returned from juvenile court, Wellington said he'll now be able to lay off four fewer deputies and should have enough on hand to keep the minimum-security jail open.
The sheriff said he's not sure whether the deputies will be returned to the juvenile justice center after the budget situation improves and he's able to call back the laid-off deputies.
"That wasn't discussed," Wellington said. "We're just addressing the emergency right now."
Judge Dellick could not be reached to comment.
To make up for the decrease in security at the juvenile court, Wellington has commissioned two court employees as deputy sheriffs to assist with security there.
Burris said the employees, the court's security director and training officer, have received police training through the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy.
"They are absolutely qualified do to this," she said.
Judge Dellick is suing commissioners in the Ohio Supreme Court for more funding this year. She asked for $6.9 million but was given $4.6 million. She is asking the high court to force commissioners to provide her with the rest of what she says is needed to operate the court.
Commissioners have said that if she wins, the bulk of the money will probably come from the sheriff's department because it receives the most money from the county's general fund.
Wellington has said that's not fair, and complained that his budget was cut more than that of other county offices.