(Cincinnati) -- The so-called "revolving door" at the Hamilton County Justice Center closed February 1st. That's when newly sworn-in Sheriff Jim Neil instituted new policy to designed to keep suspects off the streets. Since then, about 1,000 people were held at the jail until they saw a judge. Major Charmaine McGuffey says they're seeing the result, with improved morale among police officers in Hamilton County.
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McGuffey says previously, suspects arrested for minor crimes were booked and released, often getting out, before the arresting officer was finished with the paperwork. She told the Hamilton County Commissioners many arrestees were booked, given an order to appear in court, also knowns as a capias, and then released. Some never showed up for their court date. McGuffey says one man had 29 orders to appear, and had ignored them all.
The change is thanks to a change in classifications. By law the Justice Center can only hold 1,240 prisoners. But, if someone hasn't been arraigned, they're classified as a detainee, not as an inmate, so they don't count against the consent decree.
McGuffey says they have to follow up on each capias, and each one costs about $600. So, she says by retaining suspects until they've gone before a judge, they're saving Hamilton County money.
And, the Sheriff's Office would like some of that money back. McGuffey says they want to expand the home arrest program, by purchasing more electronic monitoring bracelets. They would also need to hire about six more people, including three correction officers, to maintain the program. The estimated cost is $546,000.
She says having more non-violent offenders serve their sentence at home frees up jail space for more dangerous criminals.
McGuffey says they want to have the expansion in place before May, when traditionally, the number of arrests climbs.