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Published: Friday, 10/10/2003

Officials vote to keep unit of 60 beds at CCNO open

A proposal to close a 60-bed unit at the often crowded Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio near Stryker has been defeated after law enforcement officials overwhelming protested the decrease in beds.

CCNO Director Jim Dennis said yesterday the idea, raised for budgetary discussion purposes, is dead and won't appear for consideration at a budget meeting at CCNO next week.

Mr. Dennis said he wasn't surprised most county judges, sheriffs, and prosecutors shot down a chance to save money in exchange for a decrease in jail beds, which often are in high demand.

“We had two overcrowding emergencies so far this year,” Mr. Dennis said. “With that in mind, I wasn't surprised the rest of the criminal justice arena couldn't do without the beds.”

The idea was discussed by CCNO's financial overview committee, made up of commissioners and budget officials in Defiance, Williams, Fulton, Henry, and Lucas counties and the city of Toledo, which use the 642-bed regional jail.

Under the proposal, governments would have more money in their general funds because they would purchase fewer beds over the next year.

Mr. Dennis said the overall, combined savings was estimated at $500,000.

Henry County Sheriff John Nye said he did not support a decrease in beds at the regional jail, in part because of the message it would send to criminals.

With fewer beds, the chances for early releases or even waiting lists to house prisoners could have jumped. Sheriff Nye said Henry County is adding a common pleas judge and making its Municipal Court judgeship full-time, which should speed up the system.

“What kind of message are we sending if we're saying, `We can't afford to arrest you and lock you up?'” he asked.

Mr. Dennis said the CCNO budget remains a discussion topic, especially with the bed cutback out of the question. He said the financial overview committee will discuss the matter at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, with the full CCNO board scheduled to approve the budget at an Oct. 22 meeting.

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