In Cincinnati, Hamilton County Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper raised the county sales tax to pay for a new jail, says the Cincinnati Enquirer. Now a coalition trying to block that increase and allow the public to vote on it has filed petitions to try to stop the tax.
Portune and Pepper say the jail buildings are inadequate and “crumbling.”The Enquirer was granted a tour of the Queensgate jail, which county officials say is the most dilapidated of four jail buildings. Citing “security issues,” the Sheriff’s Office – which runs the jails – denied the newspaper permission take photos and denied permission to tour other jails, including the main jail downtown. The idea that Queensgate is unfit is laughable to one former inmate. “The food was good. There’s a good view of the river. It reminded me of Boy Scout camp,” said a former prisoner who is among those petitioning against the sales-tax increase. Officials cite disturbing structural and operational problems that they said could become disastrous. The building does not meet Ohio jail standards, but the state agreed to let it accept inmates because it was supposed to be only a temporary facility. Queensgate was supposed to close in 1999 but did not.