Sheriff's office asking for cash to close revolving door

HAMILTON COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office is asking for $546,126 to continue their efforts to stop the revolving door at the jail and make better use of the space available.

"I think we owe it not just to that department, but to the people of Hamilton County to find the money the Sheriff's Office needs in order to continue the progress they've made," Commissioner Todd Portune said.

"The main deterrent to crime is to know that you're going to come to jail and you're going to stay there," said Major Charmaine McGuffey of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

By separating offenders awaiting arraignment from inmates, jail officials have found a way to free up more beds and keep more offenders from walking right back out the door. There is a cap on the number of inmates the jail is allowed to house, but not the number of offenders they are holding for arraignment. Officials say as long as they keep the two groups separated in their daily count, they can keep as many offenders as they have beds for, instead of sending them back out on the streets.

"Now they are upset and they're upset for a good reason because now they know they have to stay," McGuffey.

In a presentation to commissioners, Major Charmaine McGuffey asked for more officers and 215 new monitoring devices to continue their efforts to keep track of offenders and stop the revolving door. McGuffey says they currently have 568 total monitoring units and 341 are in use now.

"It's a very economical way to take care of someone without having to provide them a bed," Commissioner Todd Portune said. "It's a way to make your money go a lot further to increase bed space at the justice center."

Commissioner Todd Portune praised the sheriff's office for thinking outside the box.

"I think we have to look very hard within available resources on hand right now in Hamilton County to see if we can come up with the money even if it means tapping into reserve dollars to acquire the electronic monitoring units."

Arguing while the price tag to maximize the beds available is not cheap, it is much less than building a new jail.

"They're asking for a $500,000 to address an issue in large part that before now was going to be addressed through the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars," Portune said.

McGuffey says they will likely need more space in the future for medical and mental health needs suggesting the possibility of satellite locations.

Commissioner Chris Monzel says he wants to see the Sheriff's Office budget come "back in the box" of what has been approved before he considers out-of-the box program options.

The department's 100 day audit to identify efficiencies is slated to begin April 1st.

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