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Sheriff's office wants more staff to keep up with higher jail populations

Tana Weingartner

The Hamilton County Sheriff's office is asking for extra staff to keep up with the added work now that "revolving door" at the jail is closed.

Major Charmaine McGuffey wants three additional officers to handle increased record keeping. She's asking for two officers with a base pay of $37,000 and one at $42,000 (not including benefits).

The department also wants to purchase 215 additional electronic monitoring units and add two staff to operate them. The total price tag for that would be around $546,126.

Jailers are hanging on to more people by distinguishing "inmates" and "detention prisoners." The jail is allowed to hold 1,240 inmates. Detention prisoners are those awaiting court appearances but not added to the general population.

Since implementing the new system in February, McGuffey says the county has held onto 1,000 people who would otherwise have been released immediately after processing because of jail overcrowding.

Officers also now shuffle inmates daily between the different units in order to maximize total bed space.

So if this plan is so simple, why didn’t anyone think of it sooner? McGuffey credits the inmate/detention prisoner distinction plan to staff being encouraged by Sheriff Jim Neil to think “outside the box.”

Neil has not yet formally made a budget request to Hamilton County Commissioners. However, Board President Chris Monzel says the Sheriff may need to think “inside the box” when it comes to finding the money for the additional staff and equipment.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.