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Making Room in Jail: New Policy Holds Criminals
HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio (Deb Dixon) -- It used to be the jail was so overcrowded people arrested for non-violent crimes were usually processed then let go, with just a notice to show up in court.
Most of them never did, and they usually got arrested again and again for the same thing. The new policy is very different. No one gets out without seeing a judge, and the results are paying off.
For years, people who committed nonviolent crimes knew they would likely walk out of the jail less than an hour after walking in. It is called, "processing out".
In 2012 that happened to 7,004 men. That means they were released almost immediately after being arrested. When told to show up to court, few did.
This year since February, the number is zero. None have walked in and walked right back out. No one got out of jail without seeing a judge first.
Major Charmaine McGuffey of the Hamilton County Jail said, "The judges can set bonds. They can send these people to treatment. They can order them to go to electronic monitoring whereby they can carry on with their life and go to treatment and go to work and do things they need to do. But they're being now monitored by us."
Part of the reason there is room in the jail is the new policy under Sheriff Jim Neil that allows people who have served most of their sentence to be released on home incarceration with an electronic monitor.
Major McGufffey says making room in the jail to make criminals accountable for what they've done affects us all.
"If offenders know we have room and we're going to hang on to you they are going to give it that second thought before committing a crime."
Inmate Amanda told Local 12 News, "I know the first thing that I thought about when I jumped into police cars was are they processing women? You know, but when they pulled my process it essentially saved my life."
Amanda has been in a police car plenty of times; arrested 43 times since 2000, all on drug charges. When she was processed out or released right away and told to go to court she never did. This time she has been in jail 74 days and is 74 days sober.
"I see new beginnings and I see a fresh start. I'm tired of hurting people I care about."
Here is the promise from the Hamilton County Jail: if you commit a crime around the holidays, you're staying at the jail. You're not going home for Christmas or anywhere until you see a judge.
Holding criminals until they can see a judge also makes a financial difference. Some pay bonds to get out of jail. This year the county collected one million three hundred thousand dollars in bond money.