Discussions over the New Boston inmate situation and Scioto County made it to the Scioto County Commissioners Thursday morning.
Commissioners met for their regularly scheduled meeting and addressed the complaints that arose from New Boston Village Council in regards to a 90 Day Written Notice concerning the housing of village inmates at the County Jail received from commissioners at the request of Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini.
“The jail was opened up in 2006. In twelve years we went from 100 extra beds, actually 50 for the sheriff to use and 50 to lease out to help fund the jail. In that short amount of time we have not only filled every bed in that jail, but we have overrun as many as 60 inmates at any one point in time. Routinely they have 235 to 260 prisoners in the jail that we built in 2006 for 190 prisoners,” said Scioto County Commission Chair Mike Crabtree. “So the space is a serious issue, and a lot of people, I know, are concerned with their own needs, whether it be the City of Portsmouth or whether it be New Boston, but we also had outside entities that were heavily reliant on the Scioto County Jail for their overrun of prisoners as well.
“Unfortunately, you know, we have a sheriff that is an elected official. He enforces the Ohio Revised Code in the county, and also we have the prosecutor that is our legal advisor,” Crabtree continued. “I was informed a long time ago, early on as commissioner, that not only is the prosecutor our legal advisor, but also the sheriff is the legal enforcement agency within the county. We don’t challenge their authority when it comes to telling us whether or not they can or can’t house someone from another entity for legal reasons and if they cite something in the Ohio Revised Code that says “well look I can’t accept a prisoner if they’re charged under an ordinance instead of the Ohio revised code.
“(Scioto County Sheriff) Marty (Donini) stated, in an article I read, that if someone is cited under the Ohio Revised Code he has no choice but to take those prisoners, but if they are cited under a city ordinance he really doesn’t have to accept them if he doesn’t have space in the jail. You know, I guess he has had some conversations with New Boston, they’ve been trying to work out some of the differences they had,” Crabtree continued. “He sent a letter over here to us to send to the city of New Boston informing them they had 90 days, that’s either to work out the differences in issues they had or sign the contract, or whatever they wanted to do. A lot of people said that the county commissioners are trying to force or refuse New Boston’s prisoners. That is entirely untrue. The ones that are cited under the Ohio Revised Code has to taken in, there is no choice. The reality is they have 90 days, that’s a fourth of a year.”
Crabtree stated that previously a similar contract between Scioto County and Pike County had been refused by Pike County Commissioners, but said that Pike County contacted them and the parties were able to easily sit down and rework the contract to suit both parties. “The contract is not a contract until it’s signed by both parties. Until both parties sign it is nothing more than a proposal, until it gets to the other party and if they like the terms of the proposal they sign it, and if not they don’t go on Facebook or social media and make a bunch of false allegations and misinformed statements made for political reasons,” Crabtree said. “What they do is they contact the powers that be, the people on the other side of the coin and say, “look, we need to get together and have a meeting and determine what we need to do to make this work.” We’re here every day, we have clerks that answer the phone routinely, and if anyone wishes to discuss the terms of the proposal we’re more than happy to sit down with anybody.”
Crabtree stated that a sit down did not in fact take place before those disgruntled by the contract took to social media, and believed that previous employees of the county led the online bashing in hopes of “stirring the pot”.
“The negotiations up to the 90 day notice, there was some back and forth with New Boston and the sheriff, Mr. Bloom the solicitor and the sheriff. There was a September 5th, memo sent by Bloom to the sheriff with several others copied on the memo, but the county commissioners were not copied on their issues that they had,” said Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis. “I was given a copy of that, and I shared it with them [Commissioners] on Tuesday, by the solicitor. The cat was already out of the bag at that point, we didn’t know the issues per say until then.”
Davis also mentioned the contract between Scioto and Pike County, and stated that Pike County communicated their issues with the proposal and said the parties were easily able to come to a civilized agreement. “They didn’t like the contract. We didn’t write the contract. That is something the sheriff, who is a duelly authorized elected official representative, wrote,” Davis said. “He wrote the contract. They didn’t like it. They called down, very simple. We had them all down, the sheriff came in, I think that meeting lasted 30 minutes to reach an agreement.”
“That’s what it comes down to is funding. Everyone’s had their funding cut. We’re all in the same boat. It all boils down to that revenue,” he said. “Their Mayor’s Court operates much differently than our Municipal Court, the mayor’s court relies on citations and things like that.”
Davis stated that he believes the issues between New Boston and the County can be resolved easily, and said conversations between himself and New Boston Mayor Junior Williams reassured him of that fact.
“We’ll get this fixed,” said Davis.
Commissioner Cathy Coleman reiterated the points made by both Davis and Crabtree, and suggested that before jumping into the feeding frenzy of facebook to ask questions and get the facts.
“Anytime that there is a question we are here to clarify,” Coleman said.
Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932