Fixing the jail doesn’t begin with the jail

The news today was that Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, Sheriff Phil Plummer, County Commissioner Dan Foley and State Senator Peggy Lehner have a plan for an oversight committee to work on the Montgomery County Jail, where Plummer thinks it’s ok to pepper spray inmates while restrained. A ten person committee will solve all the problems. Not.

The first step to solving the problems at the jail is to work to keep people out of it, or to at least cycle them through as fast as possible when jail is not the answer.

To start off, we should look to Franklin County which has one county wide municipal court system. Judges are elected county wide, there is only one clerks office, and one website. Because they’ve avoided the duplication we have with courts in Oakwood, Kettering, Centerville, Vandalia, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Moraine etc. they can do somethings we don’t- like run the clerks office 7 days a week from 8 am to midnight. This way, people can work and get to the clerks office to pay their fines instead of having warrants issued.

Another option is to have night court. No reason to wait till the next day for a TRO, or bail to be set, with a night court- cases can be disposed of quicker. Same goes for having a weekend magistrate. Jail is for people who pose a risk to the community, not those who have other issues- like no way to get in to pay their fines.

Alcohol and drug problems aren’t best dealt with in a jail. Realistically, these are mental health issues, and even Sheriff Plummer tells us he’s not capable of handling psychiatric cases. It’s time to properly assess and build a county wide drug and alcohol treatment center. Yes, the doors will be locked, but, the people dealing with people coming off highs won’t be cops, they’ll be health care professionals. Ask Virgil McDaniel from Project Cure how to best manage addicts, don’t ask Sheriff Phil.

Last but not least, when it comes to bail and bond issues, we need a better system. If you are in jail and can’t make bail, there has to be a better reason than you’re broke. We keep people with very low bail in jail because they just don’t have the money, yet, we spend more in 3 days than what the bail would be. It’s sort of doing time for being broke and it’s not solving anybodies problems. Bail reform has been a major discussion in New York and California, where they’ve realized that by holding people for a week who live on the edge of poverty, it’s pretty much a bankruptcy in the making. Car gets repossessed, rent is late and they get evicted, lost their job, don’t pay their phone bill. Never mind they haven’t been found guilty yet- they’ve just been locked up. We need to find different ways to make sure people show up in court, and that incarceration before your day in court isn’t more expensive than the eventual fine or jail time.

We also need a much faster way to process prisoners out. How about a one hour guarantee or the bail starts going down? I paid $114 to get a friend out of the jail a month ago, and had to wait almost 4 hours for their release. That cost me time and money, and it costs the taxpayers. If you can’t get someone out of jail in an hour after the bond has been paid, there needs to be an incentive in place to get people out of jail as fast as we can put them in.

Make these changes first, and the committee may not have much to fix.

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5 Comments on "Fixing the jail doesn’t begin with the jail"

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Martha Hardcastle
Martha Hardcastle

Good stuff.
I’m a fan of Bentham’s Panopticon.
No chance of that, huh?

Nathanael Johnson
Nathanael Johnson

You are offering systemic reform as a reaction to apparently cultural problems within the MC police system. Do you honestly believe that change on that scale is possible as a reaction to the recent events? The specific problems you call out are areas that arguable need improvement, but there is no “one right way” to run these systems. I agree with you that there are major flaws in the system, but I do not think it is productive to bluster and rage when efforts, even when they are an “oversight committee” are being made to address a specific problem. Systemic change comes from a long slog of policy reform, not firing from the hip when you get smacked in the face.

carl

These genius’ should have looked at the law first. A procedure for review is already in place but likely not used.

341.02 Jail register – operational policies and procedures – prisoner rules of conduct.
. . . The court of common pleas shall review the jail’s operational policies and procedures and prisoner rules of conduct. If the court approves the policies, procedures, and rules of conduct, they shall be adopted.

One would have a hard time finding the required approval by the Court for the policies and procedures.

new government
new government

The issues you brought up here are issues that the public needs to be reminded several times. Perhaps one day these ideas will be put in place. Streamlining, downsizing, consolidate our local courts, budgets, and costs will also lower taxes for all of us because it takes a lot of money for chiefs that do the same job as others, not mentioning the problems of the friend and family plan, nepotism, corruption, and getting paid to not do the job of the office to which they hold and should terminate and be fired.

It is no wonder we have one of the highest tax rates. Will our leaders lower taxes for the rest of us and take pay cuts and have checks and balances to run things smoothly?

Everyone loves to be paid a blank check in hand but to do the proper task at hand is another.

To have this we need accountability and an ethics committee that would level the playing field that David mentions to us on this blog.

locally it can start with each neighborhood and their local communities could help if we worked together which we see little of this. This may be the reason why nothing changes until we rebuild integrity into the system and positions terminated and individuals fired all bets are off until these individuals have consequence for their actions!

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