Last updated: May 13. 2014 6:26PM - 1155 Views
By William Laney wlaney@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — Allen County officials continued a discussion they started last week regarding the economic and logistic feasibility to reintroduce the use of ankle monitors to help reduce strain on the Allen County Jail when the population exceeds an acceptable level

The Allen County commissioners met with Sheriff Sam Crish and Deputy Sheriff Jim Everett on Tuesday to discuss using the ankle monitors, some which link to the GPS device in cellphones, for inmates during their waning days in the jail or for those convicted of lesser crimes.

“When our numbers get extremely high we are just trying to find different ways to reduce that number,” Crish said after the meeting with commissioners in their chambers. “Last week we met with all the judges and just talked about different ways to help with the jail population and one way is to look at the ankle monitoring system so we are going to explore that option. It will not be a replacement for the jail, but when our numbers get up it will free up some jail space.”

Crish said the jail was constructed to handle 210 inmates and by doubling the number of inmates in some of the cells they can comfortably house 230 to 240 inmates. When the inmate population climbs to 270 or 280, the sheriff becomes concerned and contemplates housing inmates at other jail facilities, but this includes paying another county between $65 and $90 per day per inmate.

He said this could “bankrupt the county” if they had to house all the additional inmates in other counties.

Crish said he will be exploring the use of the ankle monitoring system, which the Lima Municipal Court currently uses.

Previously the county purchased their own ankle monitors but they discontinued using them because they became out-of-date and too costly. Crish said purchasing ankle monitors would not be economically advantageous and he would favor renting or leasing the devices. By renting or leasing the devices, they may pay between $3 to $10 per day and the offender would have to pay the daily fee.

“We are going to meet with the individual who operates the ankle bracelet program through [Lima] Municipal Court and talk with them, get an idea how the bracelet works, the cost and who they contract with and then we will meet with the commissioners again,” Crish said. “We are going to take a look at if we can do at the Sheriff’s Office alone, leasing the equipment and have somebody on staff monitor that program.”

He will research if they can monitor inmates from the Sheriff’s Office or if it is more economically feasible to have the company providing the ankle monitors keep track of the offenders “because we are trying to find ways to save money for the county.”

The judges would determine which inmates would qualify for the program, Crish said. He assumes the judges would not permit any person convicted of a violent crime participate in the program.

Commissioner Cory Noonan said their next step is to meet with Prosecuting Attorney Juergen Waldick regarding the legal responsibility of an inmate who may be fitted with an ankle monitor.

“When these people who have committed these lesser offenses and they are close to having served their entire sentence and maybe we need some bed space in the jail so we are looking at ways to maintain some form of punishment but still free up the bed space,” Noonan said. “Their sentence will still be hanging over them. If there is any type of violation, they will have a one-way ticket back to jail.

“We want everyone involved with the inmates to buy into this before we move forward.”

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