New Cincinnati Sheriff Lets Journalists See Overcrowded Jail

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Overcrowding at the Cincinnati’s Hamilton County Jail has meant tens of thousands of inmates are being released before they spend a day in jail or before their sentence is complete, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. From September 1987 to December of last year, 167,291 inmates walked out of jail before they should have. These numbers have long thrust the jail into the spotlight and raise this question: Does Hamilton County need a new jail?

Law officers and judges – tired of seeing criminals back out on the street before their work day is even over – say yes. Commissioners have mostly agreed, but haven't been able to find the needed cash.Two sales tax initiatives to build one have failed. New Sheriff Jim Neil – aware the county can't afford a new jail now – is taking a different route. He plans to beef up home arrests for inmates not accused of violent crimes. It's been years since local media have seen the inside of the two-building structure that houses Hamilton County's 1,240 inmates. That's due to a black-out policy instituted by former sheriff Simon Leis. Neil allowed in the Enquirer in last week to see the “city that never sleeps” as Maj. Charmaine McGuffey described it.

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