Cincinnati Judge Brad Greenberg was shocked to discover that hours after he sent Rasheena Greene to jail last week for leaving the scene of an accident in which she struck a bicyclist, she had been released. She was supposed to spend 180 days in jail. Instead, because of jail crowding, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office told her to come back in 60 days to serve her sentence, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. Greene’s release shows the impact of Hamilton County’s jail crisis and its decreased 2009 operating budget.
The proposed $241 million budget – $30 million less than this year’s budget – forced county officials to close a jail this month eliminating 822 jail beds. That’s on top of an already crowded Justice Center that officials sought to expand or replace by imposing a tax increase, only to see the public vote against it in 2006 and 2007. Judge Greenberg says he already is sending to jail only those who should be behind bars. “It’s not fair to the victim to see somebody walk across the street to the jail and then get released,” he said. County Commissioner Todd Portune calls it “the perfect storm of a perfect nightmare.” Sheriff Simon Leis on Dec. 9 began issuing “deferred time” criminals, telling them to come back in 60 days.