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Summit County Jail Advisory Commission releases recommendations for improving jail operations, finances

August 28, 2018

Summit County Jail Advisory Commission releases recommendations for improving jail operations, finances

AKRON, Ohio - The Summit County Jail Advisory Commission has made a series of recommendations intended to improve jail operations for staff and inmates.

The 11-member panel’s recommendations reflect best practices for jail operations. The commission surmised that a combination of the recommendations would have the greatest impact on Summit County jail operations.

Here are some of the recommendations:

Explore additional community corrections alternatives. Summit County operates two full-service detention centers - the Summit County Jail and the Glenwood Jail. The committee recommends staffing Glenwood Jail - a minimum-security facility for mostly DUI offenders - with lower-paid and trained corrections officers and technology. That would free up 15 higher-paid and trained deputies to serve at the Summit County Jail.Use full-time and part-time corrections officers instead of all full-time deputies. Currently, the Sheriff’s Office uses only full-time deputies, while 86 of Ohio’s 88 counties rely on both deputies and corrections officers or non-sworn deputies. Beyond cost savings, such a move would broaden the employment pool by allowing certain positions to be filled by people other than fully sworn law enforcement officers. That would make it easier for the Sheriff’s Office to fill positions with those interested in criminal justice.Implement a network of cameras throughout the Jail with the goal of increasing deputy and inmate safety and enabling the deputies to more effectively operate in “remote” status, thus reducing the amount of overtime. Legislation was introduced last week to buy 243 digital cameras, which will provide coverage to common areas where inmates are housed, many replacing cameras that are more than 20 years old.Improve inmate services by hiring additional service workers, reopening the gym to inmate use and broadening religious services by providing books and material for people of all religions. Also, re-institute services for groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.Increase the focus on mental-health services and work with the Summit County Criminal Justice and Mental Health Forum to develop a plan for high users of such services. Provide additional beds and increase staffing for the jail’s mental-health unit. The unit now lacks enough beds to enable staff to take appropriate suicide precautions. Revert back to 48 cells for inmates with mental health concerns.

Legislation establishing the commission was introduced by Summit County Councilman David Hamilton last October, and unanimously approved by County Council.Since then, the commission divided into three subcommittees to evaluate jail operations, including:use of force and jail conditions.financial constraints and issues.inmate services and staffing levels.

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