A year ago, supporters of a tax increase for a bigger jail in Cincinnati’s Hamilton County and more safety programs said the plan was critical to avoid a public safety crisis, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. They predicted that without extra jail beds and programs, more criminals would be out on the streets. The plan died in November when voters defeated a proposal to pay for it with a sales tax increase.
The number of inmates being released early is down 83 percent. The number of people released immediately after booking because of space issues is down 22 percent compared to this time last year. The numbers are down despite the county having fewer jail beds. Those who criticized the jail tax say the dip shows that the tax wasn’t needed in the first place. They say the numbers back up their claims that the crisis was manufactured. Those who supported the plan say the problems remain. They think that a new jail is still needed to replace and consolidate aging buildings. Despite lower early-release numbers, public safety still suffers, they said. All sides agree that the tax defeat led to unprecedented efforts among departments, politicians and community groups to keep the community safe. Their efforts have helped keep the jail population down. Programs include a re-entry unit that connects jail inmates to treatment and alternatives to jail, and an agreement to send more inmates to a state-run lock-down substance-abuse treatment center.