Cranley Blocks Jail Plan

Cincinnati officials delayed a decision Wednesday on a plan to offer $6 million to Hamilton County for creating a temporary jail to handle prisoner overcrowding and stop early releases while the county decides how to build a permanent structure.

Cincinnati City Council voted 5-4 to refer the proposal back to its Law and Public Safety Committee for further review. Because council is on summer break and doesn’t meet again until Sept. 7, a decision is unlikely until sometime this fall.

Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz blamed the delay on the swing vote cast by Councilman John Cranley, usually a close political ally of Ghiz. Cranley is campaigning against Republican Steve Chabot for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District seat and is afraid of upsetting West Side voters, Ghiz said.

“John sold the city out for the sake of his congressional campaign,” an angry Ghiz said after the council meeting.

Cranley, however, said it didn’t make sense to proceed until county commissioners and Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. endorsed the plan.

“I would urge that we take our time with this,” Cranley said.

Ghiz countered that is precisely what the proposal offered by her and Councilman Jeff Berding did. It would have authorized the city manager to enter negotiations with county officials about erecting temporary tent-like structures on the site of the old City Workhouse on Colerain Avenue in Camp Washington. The facilities, which already are used in Ohio in Lima and Grafton County, are made of aluminum frames with polyurethane coverings fortified by a concrete base. They could be erected in as short as three months and house up to 800 prisoners, Ghiz and Berding said.

Any plan for building a permanent jail, the pair noted, would take at least three years to construct and possibly longer.

“It should’ve been done today,” Ghiz said. “What we’ve done today with this vote is prove the county right that we can’t get our act together.”

Ghiz, Berding, Chris Bortz and Laketa Cole supported beginning negotiations for the temporary jail; Cranley, David Crowley, Chris Monzel, Jim Tarbell and Cecil Thomas were opposed.

Ghiz and Berding hoped to make their proposal a priority in the next city budget and begin negotiations with county commissioners and Leis, who remain skeptical about the approach. Under state law, county officials must pay for and operate the jail, but some council members say the issue particularly affects Cincinnati because that’s where most of the early releases of prisoners occur.

County commissioners are debating whether to place a quarter-cent sales tax increase on the Nov. 7 ballot to pay for constructing a new jail, a plan that has Leis’ support. The deadline to put the item on the ballot is Aug. 24. Ghiz and Berding said that once commissioners approve the ballot item and Leis sees that a permanent solution is on the horizon, the sheriff would be more amenable to the city’s interim step.

An average of 22 prisoners are released before their sentences are completed each day due to a lack of available cells at the Hamilton County Justice Center, Berding said.

This spring, Hamilton County began housing up to 200 prisoners per day at the Butler County Jail, at a cost of $65 per day for each prisoner. On Wednesday, Butler County offered to make another 200 beds available at a discounted cost of $55 per day.

The annualized cost of this would be approximately $8 million plus transportation and public defender costs, county administrators said.

— Kevin Osborne

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10 Comments on “Cranley Blocks Jail Plan”

  1. Tim Jarbell Says:

    Kevin please tell us how something can be referred back to a committee it never came from? This piece of work was brought in after a whole lot of politcal grandstanding by liberals Berding and Ghiz.

    Were you even there? Or just carrying water for the Ghizbots on your own?

  2. The Dean Says:

    Why not report on the fact that, at this same meeting, City Council handed over permitting rights to Fountain Square (our City’s quintessential public space) to 3CDC.

    Only Crowley and Cole dissented.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Cranley would sell his mother to the devil if it benefited him and his political career. Why should Ghiz be surprised?

  4. WestEnder Says:

    Wait a minute… county gov’t is offering a service discount to municipal gov’t? What the hell is that? Does county gov’t have a profit margin on jail operations? Does one level of gov’t routinely negotiate fees with other levels of gov’t?

    How can HamCo offer a “discount”? Where does the difference come from? How did they arrive at $65 and $55?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    should surprise no one. Cranley is always about himself. It is going to be lonely for him on November 8.

  6. one advocate Says:

    can someone please tellme what would be the daily costs to run this new jailthat is proposed, where would we get that extra on going money, doesn’t the the city pay for each inmate incaarcerated under municipal laws?, and compared to the cost of leasing space from butler county — how does the math all add up?

  7. Anon. Says:

    No one is surprised by Cranley’s about face. He is a politician through and through. He has no loyalties at all.

    And Tim Jarbell, Ghiz is a republican and not liberal. I am glad to see the bi-partisan solution to Cincinnati’s biggest problem. Berding and Ghiz should be applauded for doing SOMETHING since most council members only complain and whine and offer no solutions.

  8. Fake Name Says:

    Tim Jarbell, just because Ghiz is showing a bi-partisan approach to Cincinnati’s biggest problem does not mean she is a liberal. Most liberals wouldn’t want to throw as many criminals in jail as possible. They would do something stupid like support Citylink and offer rehabilitation for the “poor criminals”.

    I am just glad that Berding and Ghiz are trying to do SOMETHING. Most council members just it around and whine and complain without offering any solutions. Even if you don’t agree with their plan, they should be applauded for being proactive.


  9. Here’s how the rich and powerful get mega-edifices built. They show complete confidence that the edifice needs to be built in the first place. They are the “experts,” after all, who have studied the situation. They then change the subject to how to pay for it. The little people quickly get lost in the details so it’s only a matter of time before a foundation is being dug.
    Here’s one little person asking everyone to back up.
    Exactly what is a jail going to do for me? I know the rich and powerful assume I am frightened by criminals and can appreciate the temporary relief from them. But what is a jail really going to accomplish over the time it stands there?
    I notice the people who want a new jail are the same ones who gave us the War on Drugs which is a monumental failure. I notice that jails in general already hold many victims of this misguided War on Drugs.
    Don’t these facts, at the least, prove a conflict of interest? After all, the rich and powerful are able to define “crime” into existence in the first place, and, surprise, have the solution so handy: a jail.
    When criminals eventually get released from the new jail, will they have been rehabilitated?
    I personally have zero confidence that the rich and powerful wanting this new jail have any interest in getting to the “source of crime” as Mayor Mallory and others have advocated. No, they just want to charge ahead with building their mega-edifice.

  10. Monica Says:

    This issue is not about solving the crime related issues in Cincinnati and Hamilton County. This is a political issue. Leslie Ghiz is as much about poilitics as John Cranley if not more. The plan floated by Ghiz and Berding requires first and foremost the agreement of the county to operate the facility. But more than that it was crystal clear from the article in last Sunday’s paper that the people who are utlilizing the services of the jail the most seem to be homeless people who have a substance abuse problem. Where are the murderers and rapists who are allegedly being put back out on the streets due to space issues? If in fact only 10% of the people in jail are violent offenders and 87% are awaiting trial what does that actually mean? Could it mean as I have suggested that we need a mechanism to address homelessness and substance abuse problems in our community? Or are we interested in simply warehousing people and not addressing the real problems. There are those who will say that we have enough “social programs” but it is clear that is not true. There are those who will say that Hamilton County has more “social programs” than any other in the state. That may or may not be true but even if it is that does not mean that the programs that we have are sufficient to address the needs of the community. Anyone who has followed the budget process of local, state and federal governments are aware that program dollars for such programs has declined over the last few years. Frankly the 6 million dollars that the Berding/Ghiz plan calls for would be better spent addressing the systemic causes of crime using a more wholistic approach.


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