Furloughed inmates must call the jail every month.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- It's just like the Army: Mahoning County jail inmates given a furlough must return to finish their time.
"When we have room for them, they'll be back," Warden Alki Santamas said of the inmates given leave. "It's going to be a problem."
Of 285 inmates released between March 31 and April 15 to alleviate overcrowding, 95 were furloughed, records show.
An Akron federal judge who concluded jail conditions violate inmates' civil rights wants no more than 296 inmates at the jail on Fifth Avenue. The jail can hold 564.
Sheriff Randall A. Wellington is following a 13-step release mechanism to reduce the jail population. Mahoning County common pleas judges established the release criteria late last month.
Santamas said he and the sheriff will have to figure out if furloughed inmates take priority over newly sentenced criminals. They said juggling the ebb and flow of inmates who must serve a sentence depends on how long the jail operation remains at less than capacity.
U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. halted the layoff of 62 deputies this month to allow enough guards for 296 inmates. Commissioners have not said where the money will come from to pay the deputies.
The judge will meet with Toledo attorney Vincent M. Nathan, the special master overseeing the jail operation, after the May 3 primary election to see if voters pass a half-cent sales tax they twice rejected last year. The tax helps fund the sheriff's department, among others.
Inmates released on furlough, meanwhile, sign a sheet that states they understand they must call the jail registrar every month to see if a cell is available. If they are unable to speak by phone with the jail registrar, they must report in person.
If furloughed inmates fail to call or report in person, a warrant charging them with escape may result.
Furloughed inmates' crimes include theft, assault, domestic violence, driving under suspension, probation violation, hit and run, contempt of court, carrying a concealed weapon, drug abuse, DUI, receiving stolen property, trespass and nonsupport.
Among those given jail leave was former Youngstown firefighter James A. DiMuzio, who was sent home April 12. On Feb. 17, DiMuzio, 43, of Elm Trace, Austintown was sentenced in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to six months in jail for assault.
He must return when told to complete his sentence.
In addition to furloughed prisoners, 101 inmates unable to make bond were released with a court summons, records show. Except for a few wanted by other jurisdictions, the balance of the inmates released had served most of their time and do not need to return to jail.
Leo Kellish, 24, of Bellview Avenue, for example, had been in jail since July 2004, serving 300 days for receiving stolen property, hit and run and driving under suspension. He was due out June 8 but was released April 1.
The sheriff wasn't surprised to learn that some inmates given an early release are back on his doorstep. "It's going to happen," he said.
Stefan Breedlove received an early release from jail and then got arrested again. The 44-year-old Stewart Street man, who had been serving 50 days on a theft conviction, was released March 31, about a week before his sentence was complete.
Police arrested Breedlove this past week on the East Side during a traffic stop. He was charged with possession of crack cocaine, driving under suspension and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Breedlove's bond was set at $7,000, and he is due back in municipal court Wednesday. His new charges may qualify for release on a summons.
Ronald C. Washington was doing 120 days for improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle when released April 4 on furlough. He would have been out June 10, so he has just under two months left to serve.
Washington, 48, of Mable Avenue, was in municipal court Thursday to be sentenced on a driving under suspension charge from September 2004. Judge Robert P. Milich gave Washington 180 days in jail.
Washington's crime, DUS, will likely qualify him for another furlough. When he returns, he can serve his old and new sentences.
"I don't think anybody likes it, but my attitude is I'm just going to continue to do what I've been doing," Judge Milich said. "Get them in the system. If they have to come back twice [to jail], they have to come back twice."
The judge said one of the inmates released on a court summons failed to show Thursday and he issued a warrant.
"It's a tough situation," Judge Milich. "It will break down control of the courts if they feel they won't go to jail. Eventually they'll have to do the time."
The judge said things are going to get worse because crime is moving into the "busy season" -- summer.
The 296 inmates who won't qualify for release are, for the most part, charged with crimes of violence or drug trafficking and awaiting trial.
Latrell D. Jackson, for example, has been in jail since July 2003 and isn't going anywhere any time soon. He is accused of shooting to death 17-year-old William C. Lee.
Edward C. Anderson of East Philadelphia Avenue, also charged with murder, was booked into the jail in August 2004. Anderson, 59, is charged with the July 2004 death of his girlfriend, Mary M. Thompson, who was shot four times.
Nicholas Calloway, 25, has been in jail since April 2003, charged with, among other things, aggravated burglary, receiving stolen property, trafficking in drugs and parole violation. The Kendis Circle man's charges, including driving under suspension, are from three courts -- city, county and common pleas.