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Jail crowding raises safety issues, official says

Published: Sat, August 6, 2011 @ 12:04 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken



Mahoning County’s jail houses at least 20 more inmates than it should in the portions of the lockup that are now open, and the crowding presents safety concerns for inmates and deputy sheriffs, said Maj. Alki Santamas of the sheriff’s department.

The excess also puts the county at risk for another class-action lawsuit by prisoners alleging unconstitutional crowding, Santamas said. The inmates won a lawsuit they filed concerning crowding in 2003, causing the jail to be under federal court supervision until last year.

To open more of the main jail and possibly reopen the minimum-security jail for overnight use, Santamas is urging the commissioners to consider various options for increased funding for the sheriff’s department.

“The priority is high to alleviate the congestion we have with the prisoner population,” Santamas said.

However, John A. McNally IV, chairman of the county commissioners, said the county now needs to focus on maintaining the current level of jail operations.

Just to maintain current operations, McNally recalled, Sheriff Randall A. Wellington and Sgt. Thomas DeGenova told the commissioners last month they’d need $1.1 million in addition to the $13.5 million budget commissioners initially gave the sheriff for 2011.

“We simply do not have additional revenues at this time” to fully open the main jail or reopen the minimum- security jail, McNally said, adding that he doesn’t favor having the county borrow money for these purposes.

The 81.5 percent of the main jail that is now open should house 412 prisoners, if inmates are being properly separated according to their security classifications and other factors, Santamas said.

With this amount of jail space open, the inmate population never should exceed 458, he said. However, there are now 478 prisoners lodged in the jail, he said Friday.

Santamas attributed the high number of inmates to the usual summer increase in crime and arrests and to recent local law-enforcement sweeps that resulted in large numbers of arrests.

To keep the inmate population manageable, the jail has released 104 inmates since July 1 under its summons-arrest and emergency-release procedures, all of them nonviolent, except for two violent misdemeanor offenders, he said.

Santamas presented the commissioners two options for increasing main-jail capacity for the remainder of this year: Reopening 52 beds for an extra $202,568; or reopening 104 beds, which would reopen the entire main jail, for $405,136.

He also said they could reopen half of the 96-bed minimum-security jail for the rest of this year for an additional $270,091 or the entire minimum-security lockup for $540,181. The minimum-security lockup has been closed to overnight use since May 2010 and is now used only for the day-reporting inmate work program.

If the commissioners wish to open all of the main jail and reopen all of the minimum-security jail for the remainder of 2011 and recall all 44 laid-off deputies in doing so, the total additional cost would be $945,318, Santamas said. The department now has 200 deputies.

“With our population overcrowding as it is, any additional beds that we can get would benefit our current situation,” Santamas said without being specific as to where the commissioners should obtain the extra money.

When law-enforcement officials announce sweeps, such as the Violence Gun Reduction and Interdiction Program (VGRIP), they don’t discuss with county commissioners the additional jail beds to be occupied by those arrested in such sweeps, McNally said.


1whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Sherriff needs to charge inmates for housing. This means before they can order zoom zooms and wham whams they have to pay.

non-violent offenders put on ankle bracelets that the inmate pays for weekly

make all these inmates clean this town up, instead of laying around the jail sucking up air-conditioning and watching cable tv and playing cards.

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2mrblue(1175 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Inmates have entirely too many rights. What about the victims-----where are their rights? Just another reason the criminal has no fear of the law especially in the Mahoning valley.

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3author50(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Here we go again....

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4Traveler(606 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

hang the worst 10% in jail at the covelli centre downtown charge for tickets to pay for the rest of the jail.

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5crimelander(122 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I fail to understand how Mahoning County can operate with such a defeatist by design plan.

Let's waste millions building a new jail.

Then once opened, let's make it so it houses perhaps even less than the old jail...

Then on top of that, let's create a financial situation where there is no staffing money, so a big portion of the jail is sitting idle and empty.

Not to defend Paul Gains, but this has impact bonds requested, decisions to remove people from the jail pending trial and other schemes that spring people from the facility.

Mahoning County needs to find more pork fat it's wasting on idiotic items and apply that to staffing of the jail. Public safety is and will always be the top concern in the minds of citizens. How about housing these folks in Trumbull, Columbiana, etc?

Clearly, the elected royalty don't get the safety point.

May I point you to another homicide involving another key person, who should have been in Mahoning County Jail instead of on the streets, and that would have prevented another homicide:

Delord Green the intended target of shoot-out gun fight that killed 17 year old Braylen Collins.

Who let Green out of the county jail?

He was in jail pending trial for auto theft, a serious felony.

Of course this knucklehead is on the streets pending trial. But why?

03/14/2011 BOND SET AT $20,000.00 CASH OR SURETY




Well, Green had a 20k cash bond. He was declared indigent (i.e. broke). Taxpayers appointed counsel we pay for to defend this trash heap.

As of May 13, right to speedy trial was waived meaning the case is slowing proceeding by both parties.

May 20, "PSYCHIATRIC CENTER OF NE OH" exam? Is that a mental health assessment?

See: http://www.mh.state.oh.us/what-we-do/...

So, some point thereafter, the court seems to have sprung Green free. Either someone bonded him out or they just let him out on his own without bond.

Is this surprising? It should be. Who is listed as the prosecutor in this stolen car case against Green?

Mr. "let them out of jail" Paul J. Gains.

Maybe we now know why Gains keeps springing the scum from jail?

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6trustinthetruth067(6 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Well said crimelander!

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7andrew1967(36 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

well from what I have be reading about
how bad the Southside has become,
just build a wall around that side of town
with razor wire problem solved, they even have homes to sleep in, just an

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