Inmate housing stirs controversy.

By Kimberly Jenkins - [email protected]

A copy of the 90 day notice sent to the Village of New Boston Council by Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini.

A copy of the 90 day notice sent to the Village of New Boston Council by Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini.

A controversy arose from a 90 Day Written Notice received from the Scioto County Sheriff and the Scioto County Commissioners concerning New Boston prisoners.

Last night at the regularly scheduled meeting of the New Boston Village Council, Mayor Junior Williams passed a copy of the notice to all council members in attendance. The notice was regarding the Village of New Boston’s use of the Scioto County jail.

The notice, dated September 11, 2018, read as follows: “After consulting with and upon the request of the Scioto County Sheriff, the Board of Scioto County Commissioners has decided to prohibit the use of the county jail by the Village of New Boston…”

After receiving and reading the notice, council brought forth questions to Village Solicitor Justin Blume. Councilman Jon Mills wanted to know if Blume had received the proposed contract. Blume stated he had received a proposed contract and that he had sent Doninia letter on September 5, on behalf of council , that the proposed contract was unacceptable. Blume stated ,”I felt there were some terms that were unreasonable and quite frankly contrary to Ohio law. We’re not going to agree to a contract that has language that gives him authority to refuse our prisoners if they’re over capacity.”

Councilman Don Raike, then stated, ” So, the people of New Boston pay taxes for a county jail and to hire sheriff and his deputies, yet we’re not allowed to use it as tax payers, is that what is going on here? So again, the people of New Boston are being denied something they are already paying for, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me.” He then went on to say how it ‘ticked’ him off and Mills agreed.

Blume then said he felt the contract was a copy of one that had been used previously for out of county law enforcement, and that the people of New Boston are residents of this county.

Williams then said, “I’ve been here three and a half years with mayor’s court and it’s not like we have abused the jail system.” Blume continued and said that as far as he had been sitting as solicitor, they had only sent two and that one of them was the one which was refused, which is what spurned this contract. The incident which Blume was referring happened on August 17. Council and Blume discussed that this was unlawful. Blume was referring to ORC Sections 1905.35 and 1905.36 that he stated clearly established that only the commissioners could prohibit the village’s use of the county jail. This was also written in the letter in public records that Blume sent to Donini on September 5.

Following this discussion, Mills said he was willing to go on record, “I am a republican as well as our sheriff and our three county commissioners and I’m here to say, this is poor! We the people of New Boston, we pay taxes, not only that, our sales tax that goes to the county and is generated in the Village of New Boston. I believe they would miss that greatly, if it went away…We contribute as a village and as a municipality to this jail and if the county commissioners want to go to battle, I’m willing to go to battle. Republican versus Republican, this is wrong.”

“I want the record to be clear, we have never taken the position that we would not pay a fair rate for the incarceration of our inmates,” Blume said. “The only things that we objected to is what I considered to be and I think everyone in this room who had knowledge of it considered to be exorbitant fees, tried to be levied in the contract.”

Councilman Ryan Ottney, said, “It is disappointing that the Commissioners would do that to the people of New Boston.”

A call to Scioto County Commissioner Mike Crabtree was returned. “From a legal standpoint, we can’t tell the sheriff how to run his office. It is separate and elected, however, everything that is contracted has to go through the county commissioners,” Crabtree said. “And what we usually do when they write a contract, it’s more of a proposal than anything, they run it through the prosecutor’s office, who determine if it’s legally written. They send it to us and we approve it and then it goes to another entity. It doesn’t become a contract until the other party accepts it or whatever they do. In this case with New Boston, we knew there would probably be some issues so they have two options, they can either accept the contract and sign it, they have 90 days, that’s three months to get with us to sit down and decide what issues you have with the contract and what can we do. So, right now, it’s nothing more than something the sheriff came up with and he had some issues with the sections of 1905.35 and 1905.36 of the Ohio Revised Code.”

Crabtree went on to say it was his understanding that New Boston Council had not sent a letter back when given the original proposed contract. However, the Portsmouth Daily Times has a copy of a letter dated September 5, to Sheriff Marty Donini, from Blume, in regards that council would not accept the contract as first submitted to them.

Crabtree went on to say that Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis, had spoken to Williams and they know there are issues and they all need to get together and work on this. He also mentioned there is a problem with space in the jail that was built originally for 199 inmates and they have more than that most days.

Donini spoke with the Times stating “first I would like to compliment and thank the Board of Scioto County Commissioners for honoring my request I made to them concerning the issuance of a 90 day notice to the Village of New Boston. It’s unfortunate that there are individuals out there in the social media world circulating their version of this situation without even attempting to get the “real” facts.”

He basically stated that as an elected official, they must sometimes make decisions to benefit the majority of their residents. He said, “As the result of annual audits conducted by the Ohio Auditor, the sheriff has been instructed to assure that contractual agreements are produced for housing inmates for other entities so there is no misunderstanding concerning the conditions, rates of per diem and associated fees when the various entities are invoiced.”

Obviously the Village of New Boston feels that the residents of Scioto County should be financially responsible to pay for medical costs associated with housing their inmates along with the cost of transporting their inmates to doctors’ appointments and to emergency medical facilities when health emergencies occur. Ohio Revised Code section 1905.35 clearly states the Municipal Corporations (Village) may use the county jail but at the expense of the Municipal Corporation.

For the most part, the inmates brought to the Scioto County Jail are charged under Ohio Revised Code sections and the sheriff is required and will continue to accept those inmates at no cost to the Village of New Boston, according to Donini. “It’s unfortunate that the Village of New Boston doesn’t seem to understand and refuses to accept financially responsibility for housing inmates within the Scioto County Jail,” he said. “Ohio Revised Code section 1905.36 was created for a reason and clearly authorizes a Board of County Commissioners to prohibit the use of the county jail for housing inmates cited under village ordinances.”

“As Sheriff, I realize there are approximately 2000 residents who reside in the Village of New Boston but I also realize the approximate 78,000 residents who live in other communities within Scioto County should not have to bear the financial costs associated with housing New Boston Village inmates,” Donini said.

As for New Boston not bearing the financial costs, Mills stated during the New Boston meeting that he was all about paying if they owe something, but he wanted to be treated fairly, and this went along with Blume’s statement about how the Village Council would pay a fair rate for the incarceration of their prisoners.

A copy of the 90 day notice sent to the Village of New Boston Council by Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini. copy of the 90 day notice sent to the Village of New Boston Council by Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini.

By Kimberly Jenkins

[email protected]

Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928

Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928