Four in 10 people arrested in Cincinnati’s Hamilton County last weekend didn’t spend the night in jail, in many cases because there was no room, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. In all, 148 people – at least 16 of them felony cases – were released and told to come back to court in the morning. While some defendants were accused of the most minor of crimes – improper signal or trespassing – others were accused of assault or drunken driving in which they caused a crash. Many were “quality of life” crimes that affect neighborhoods like minor drug crimes and prostitution.
Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. said the criminal justice system is broken. “We face a crisis right now,” he said. “There is no end in sight.” Things may get worse. More budget cuts are coming and the hottest months – when police say the most crimes happen – are ahead. County commissioners have asked the sheriff to cut $2.2 million more from his $62.8 million budget. That’s on top of the $12 million he’s already cut. Much of that was accomplished by an 800-bed jail Dec. 24. One possible cut is a floor of the justice center, which could mean laying off 17 deputies and saving the cost of housing 112 inmates.