Reducing jail population saving Lucas County money, keeping community safer

Reducing jail population saving Lucas County money, keeping community safer
(Source: WTOL)
(Source: WTOL)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Locking up fewer criminals can actually keep the community safer.

It's about making sure the right offenders stay in jail, and releasing those who are not a flight or safety risk.

"I think everyone is on the same page that we are going to worry about the safety of our community before any action will be taken," said Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp.

This strategy for managing jail overcrowding is part of a two-year grant that Lucas County received in 2016 from the MacArthur foundation.

It challenged law enforcement officials and mental health organizations to work together to find a way to reduce population at the Lucas County Jail and CCNO.

"We've had jail numbers going down, bed days going down, crime's going down and yet our use of the jail is going down," said Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada. "So its a win-win-win for the community."

The goal is to find ways other than incarceration to punish someone for a crime.

For example, the courts and law enforcement implemented alternatives such as treatment programs, mental health counseling and ankle monitors. These alternatives not only saved Lucas County hundreds of thousands of dollars, but also cut back on overpopulation.

This plan will also help commissioners and law enforcement figure out the best jail to build in Lucas County.

"The current facility is antiquated, it's beyond its useful life," said Contrada. "It's beyond the point where we can really repair it, but in trying to figure out what is appropriate to build, these numbers are very critical. They tell us what size is right and what the future holds."

In one year after implementing this program, overcrowding has been reduced by 18 percent.

The program is also reducing repeat offenses and new crime.

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