MAHONING COUNTY U.S. judge prepares for order on allocation of beds for jail
Judge Dowd wanted one re-sponse from judges on jail bed allocations but got 12 letters.
By DEBORA SHAULIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The federal judge who has jurisdiction over operations at the Mahoning County Jail says it's time to issue a remedial order that will affect allocation of jail beds among municipal, county and common pleas courts.
U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. has scheduled a status call May 4 with lawyers who represent county officials and the inmates who won a lawsuit over jail conditions last year. Judge Dowd wants to know whether lawyers can agree on language in a judgment entry.
To launch that conversation, Judge Dowd's order included responses to his recent request for local judges' input on ways to allocate jail beds to participating jurisdictions.
"As is evident from the Order, this Court had hoped for a collective response reflecting the 'wisdom of the judges in Mahoning County as to a solution,'" Judge Dowd wrote in a footnote, quoting his earlier inquiry.
Instead, Judge Dowd received 12 letters -- one from the three judges of Youngstown Municipal Court; one from county court judges in Boardman, Austintown, Canfield and Sebring; one each from municipal judges in Campbell and Struthers; and one from each of the eight judges of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
"Although there was no such unified response, the Court does nonetheless appreciate the recommendations of the various judicial officers," Judge Dowd wrote.
A criminal justice working group that's addressing jail problems still wants the main courts to submit one combined response, "especially on jail space allocation," said Commissioner John McNally IV, who is the group's chairman.
Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Common Pleas Court, Judge David D'Apolito of county court in Austintown and Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr. of Youngstown Municipal Court have agreed to meet, review all of the letters that were submitted to Judge Dowd and try to make a recommendation based on the judges' remarks, McNally said.
Before that happens, however, the working group needs copies of all judges' letters to Judge Dowd. "We've asked to see all of the letters so we can see what judge has what viewpoint about how the system operates," McNally said.
So far, the working group has received only the collective letters by county and Youngstown Municipal judges, McNally noted.
May 1 deadline
The working group has a May 1 deadline to submit a final report to Judge Dowd on resolving problems that affect law enforcement, the prosecutor's office, the courts and the jail.