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Jefferson County Jail Overcrowding
Law enforcement grapples with growing problem
Saturday, August 18, 2012 6:00 AM
$1,000,000 bond set for one inmate
One inmate at the Jefferson County Jail is being held on a $1,000,000 bond.
He was arrested in February on allegations that he committed a residential entry against a woman. A no-contact order was issued, but the man contacted the victim after he bonded out in June, according to Prosecutor Chad Lewis.
The suspect was arrested on a charge of invasion of privacy. He posted bond again and police allege he made contact with his victim again, prompting him to be rearrested on an additional invasion of privacy charge.
"He won't stay away from his victim and the only way to ensure that is to keep him in custody," Lewis said.
When Jefferson County Sheriff John Wallace took office in January 2011, the average daily inmate population at the county jail was around 70. In less than two years, it has doubled, reaching 140 inmates earlier this week.
As of Friday morning, there were 129 inmates- 100 men and 29 women. Their average age is 30.8 years. At $45 a day per inmate, it costs the county about $5,800 a day to hold all the inmates at the jail.
Now officials are weighing their options to determine how to proceed. During an executive session this week, Wallace said, the County Council said it intends to give him money to hire five additional jailers to handle the overcrowding. Wallace said he and they will do whatever is necessary to handle the increasing population.
Officials are also in the beginning stages of a renovation to the jail that will increase the capacity from 92 to 112. The last renovation was finished in 2007 and increased the jail population from 50.
When looking at the charges against inmates, 66 have charges related to drugs or alcohol, but Wallace thinks that 80 percent of all inmates are being held on charges related to drugs, including burglaries or theft.
"The crime they commit was related to getting money for drugs," he said.
It's hard to pinpoint why the jail population has increased. The Jefferson County prosecutor's office is on pace for 1,616 criminal cases this year, which is a slight increase from last year.
By that estimate, Prosecutor Chad Lewis said that means about 8 percent of all the people who will be arrested this year are currently being held in jail.
"I don't have a study, but 8 percent does not stand out to me as a large number," Lewis said.
Across the country, some counties are releasing lower-level offenders to combat overcrowding. Lewis does not want the county to just begin releasing inmates from the jail.
"I think it's a dangerous game to look at our jail and say, 'OK, we have to start letting people out,'" he said.
There are no guidelines for setting bonds in particular cases. It all depends on the circumstances of the case and the defendant.
"You look at the aggravating circumstances surrounding the arrest or the crime. You look at the person's criminal history. You look at the person's connections to the community," Lewis said.
One case that argues against lowering bonds is that of Demetrice Thornton, who was arrested in 2008 on cocaine charges. Thornton had no connections to the area, other than he came here to deal drugs.
Despite that, his bond was lowered and Thornton was released from jail. While he was out on bond, Thornton was arrested for killing two people in Louisville.
There are seven people with bonds that are $100,000 or more and 21 people have bonds of $1,000 or less. A total of 35 inmates have no bond.
There are two main reasons an inmate would be held without bond: Because they have probation violations - 27 percent of jail inmates - or requests for holds from other jurisdictions - 16 percent. One-fifth of inmates in the jail have multiple cases pending.
"I don't think this is an issue where we need to reduce our jail population because as I look, I don't see any inmates who don't deserve to be there," Lewis said.
Inmate Count Graphic
Put them on electronic home detention, make them get jobs and pay the county for all costs incurred due to their incarceration. I did it 20 years ago and Florida does it now. It will relieve over crowding and get back money county has spent on them.
This comment has been hidden due to low approval.
8/20/2012 5:54:00 PM
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When our politicians promise to reduce taxes, please remember what that lost revenue could of purchased.
It's sad to say, that a lot of our drug and alcohol rehabs, have been on the chopping block, for several years now.
The question shouldn't be, if the inmates deserve to be there. If they were found guilty of the crime, well yes, they deserve to be there.
...however, has anyone ever heard of hope?
In my 54 years of existence on this earth, I have witnessed three attributes, that this country has lost entirely...
It seems as if our corporate television set, has done a good job in pointing fingers. However, when it comes to using the rest of the hand, it seems to be resting firmly on the remote control.
When you teach a man how to fish, he can feed his family.
When you teach a man hope and self respect, he can be a beacon of light to the rest of the world. Even Jesus spent a short time in hell, to make the rest of us free.
If you want to reduce crime in your community, teach your politicians how to invest in your community. All the police shows and the "Judge Judy's" on television, are not the answer to social unrest in this country. Why not remove some of these brain dead programs, and have a few of your local politicians, answering some very difficult questions, concerning the direction that this country needs to go in. Something to ponder here....
The reason why these brain dead programs are on the air, is because you support them, through your purchases and tax dollars. What you get in return, is FEAR. Fear in the form, of suppression of free speech. None of my concerns personally, has ever made it to the corporate airwaves. However, there's no shortage of the police department, being aired 24 out of the 30 minutes, on your local news every evening. Finding a victim, requires less mental horsepower, than finding the truth. (or hope, for that matter)
After cutting the cable, back in 2006, I'm finding out, that it's "patriotic," to question your government. As a matter of fact, it is your civil responsibility to do so.
If society wants to lower the inmates in their jails, then we need to create a world with hope. It starts, by drilling your politicians with real concerns about your community. Real concerns, that may have your politicians, "operating out of their comfort zone," for a change. :) Real concerns, that your corporate media, wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.
...and there's a reason for this!!
...but it has to come, from an educated society, not tied down to the "corporate lies," that are drilled into your head every evening on the (news?).
Ignoring our social problems, or elevating our police department to a new level of fear, WILL NOT, make any of our politicians accountable for their actions. However, it will make us a "reactionary" society, and NOT, a "pro-active" one. Remember, there are three branches to our government. Four, if you allow the newest one to exist...
...something to think about.
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8/19/2012 5:48:00 AM
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