Early release inmates posted online

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis has been talking for months about the amount of inmates he's had to release from the county jail due to overcrowding.

Now, the sheriff's department is going to the Internet, posting early releases from the Hamilton County Jail online.

"I've got to cut prisoners loose and that is what I'm doing," said Leis.

Leis says a lack of money has forced him to release criminals from jail, and the numbers are shocking.

"Last year we released 9,000 prisoners that should have not been released and this year we have released 13,000 prisoners up to this date today," said Leis.

Because the problem is so widespread and concerning, the sheriff started posting criminal release information, including names and crimes on the sheriff's Web site, www.hcso.org.

"There are several reasons to put that on our Web site," Leis said. "One is to let the people be able to check in their neighborhood if they know someone that was in our facility and they can check to see wether we released them. They can be aware of the fact individuals are back out on the street and it shows the public at large just how big the problem really is."

The released inmates face a wide variety of charges, including assault, theft, drug charges, soliciting, and traffic violations.

The sheriff says he started this site a mere two days ago, and because of it's popularity, the site has already crashed. Officials say so many people have tried to access the site the server got overloaded and shut down.

The department says it's working on the issue. Meanwhile, Hamilton County residents say they have mixed feeling about the move.

"I believe that no, it is not good to post the names and what they did on the Web site because of the simple fact that how do they know that people won't go and attack these people who just got out of jail," said resident Aaron Kraus.

Fellow resident Angela Merritt says she knows the system first hand and hopes by holding criminals accountable for their actions online and giving the public knowledge about it, it's just one more tool to fight crime without the funding no one seems to have.

"I am a person that used to go in and out of the justice center, and I have gotten my life together, but it's just a repeating cycle if you don't do nothing different," said Merritt.

Voters rejected a jail levy to fund housing more inmates in November of 2007.

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