Saturday, April 4, 2009

Stimulus Part II: Supporting Public Safety

In addition to receiving a large amount of stimulus dollars for transportation projects and the Banks, County leadership worked hard over the last week to ensure that we also use stimulus dollars to improve public safety.

A story in today's Enquirer touched on what we're doing. A Department of Justice grant allocation will provide about $2.4 million to be split between the County and the City (thanks to the Mayor and Manager, we were able to hammer out an equitable split), and a number of other smaller grants for cities and townships in our County.

This Friday, we finalized our request for the $1.2M. Needless to say, we dedicated the funds to assist with the jailspace problem:

- We will acquire (75) additional electronic monitoring units, as well as hire back three deputies who are needed to oversee the EMU units. Better yet, these will be GPS-based EMUs, which are far more useful, and also help alleviate jail overcrowding. (The older type of EMUs have to be tied to home (land-line) phones--and require days of delay to install a home line so a person can be monitored. Not good.)

Overall, these new EMUs are a tool that give judges additional jailspace by allowing for home detention--some "EMU inmates" would otherwise need to be locked up pending trial, and for other types of inmates and crimes,including probation violations, an EMU can be how they serve a sentence. For more information, go here.

- We will bolster our pretrial service division, which plays a key role in reducing recidivism and pinpointing non-violent offenders who are approriate for treatment/diversion--preserving needed jailspace and ensuring more high-risk offenders are never released.

- We are investing in a real-time, web-based jail information system, so each judge, and the courthouse generally, can monitor the status of who's in jail, the status of each inmate (pretrial or sentenced), etc. This is the type of investment that will greatly improve the management of our corrections system, and should be a great help to judges.

And the best part . . . we are using the money to fund each of these important additions for the next three years.

Once again, our goal is to use stimulus dollars on our priorities.

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