Mahoning County commissioners say the April 7 opening of the final 57 closed beds in the county’s main jail will enhance community safety by increasing the number of inmates that can be locked up.
It will be the first time in nearly three years the main county jail on Fifth Avenue will be fully open. The 96-bed minimum-security jail on Commerce Street will remain closed to overnight use until further notice, however.
“Everyone is happy when you have more space to put criminals away. I think he’s probably going to have some federal inmates coming in” to generate additional revenue, Carol Rimedio-Righetti, chairman of the commissioners, said of Sheriff Jerry Greene.
“It’s great news,” said Commissioner Anthony Traficanti. “As long as we have additional space [available in the jail], it’s going to help [reduce] the crime rate in the county. When the jail’s fully open, we have fewer homicides.”
Greene, who took office Jan.7, has initiated new fees for sheriff’s office services and is exploring other income sources, including housing revenue-generating inmates from the federal system and other counties in Mahoning County jail.
Commissioner David Ditzler praised Greene for being “innovative and creative” with new funding and staffing strategies for the sheriff’s office.
“We hope the sales-tax [revenue] increases” to help fund the justice system, he added. “It brings a better feeling of safety to our community” to have the main jail fully open, he said. The jail now averages about 480 prisoners.
In other business, Ditzler announced that Rachel Livengood, county human-resources director, is retiring, effective Monday. Commissioners did not discuss a replacement for the job at Thursday’s meeting.
Livengood joined the county in April 2011, after having worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation in Sidney and Columbus.
The commissioners also rejected bids they received Jan. 30 for a water-supply line installation along state Route 616 in Coitsville Township because the township was unable to obtain the necessary easements. The project will be rebid.