New step designed to monitor releases

About 44 inmates fit the profile for release, but 18 had issues preventing that.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A new step in screening inmates turned up several dozen that Mahoning County could release to keep the jail's population within legal limits.
Commissioner John McNally IV, chairman and spokesman for the county's jail working group, said Tuesday the newest potential screening step will take another week to evaluate.
The sheriff's department screened about 300 inmates the past week. Criminal background and social factors are used to create a risk assessment. About 44 prisoners fit the profile of an inmate who could be released, McNally said.
Closer evaluation showed about 18 of them, however, had issues preventing release, he said. For example, some had orders from the state parole authority to hold them. Meanwhile, 10 or 15 other inmates might be eligible for release even without fitting into the latest screening, McNally said.
Why it's needed
The new screening is intended to keep more prisoners with violent tendencies in jail or bring back such inmates let go under the current 13-step release mechanism. Judges are concerned about the type of inmate being released or those who never see the jail at all.
The jail population is capped at 296 inmates during federal oversight.
A special master assigned by a federal judge overseeing the jail suggested the new screening step. U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. is working to make the jail constitutionally sound after a successful inmate lawsuit.
The county jail group will seek approval from judges to use the new screening step if the method will work, McNally said.
Meanwhile, McNally said lawyers will talk next week about redrafting a contract that involves the city paying the county to house inmates held in jail on misdemeanor charges.
The last contract between the city and county expired a few years ago, he said. The city and county continue operating under the old terms, but both want a new agreement, he said. It's unclear what, if any, changes either side will seek, McNally said.

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