Voters in Wayne County are in the process of deciding this questin in the current election: Shall our county sales tax rate have .3 percent added to the rate to pay for funding for construction of new jail space, renovation of the current justice center and increased operating funds for a right-sized jail?
That’s a simplified version of the more legally worded question on the current Wayne County ballot.
Examine The Problem
Our county jail is severely undersized and its 40 year-old systems are beginning to fail:
Our jail’s capacity is 120, but we are averaging 145 – 160 daily.
Our jail has half the number of beds that other similarly-sized counties have.
This includes 20-40 inmates housed in other counties at a cost of $25,000 -- $60,000 per month, plus transport costs.
Our jail was designed to house six females, though a single cell block now routinely houses 20-30 females.\
Why this is so serious
1. Safety is threatened:
- Families and neighborhoods are being placed at risk when offenders who really should be in jail are not because judges are daily forced to divert or release those who need to be in jail.
- Safety of jail staff and inmates is a problem. More than 900 incidents occurred in the jail last year, largely attributable to overcrowding.
- Rising use of meth is increasing inmate risky behaviors.
2. Recovery is hampered:
- Probationers consistently violate the rules, knowing they have a good chance of avoiding jail time.
- Inmates released early too often drop their treatment program and end up in more trouble.
- Failure to appear for court hearings is a serious problem, made far worse when the jail is not available for accountability.
2. Justice is compromised:
- Judges have limited sentencing options when they too often cannot jail those who deserve the full extent of the law.
- Justice is not served when inmates are released before sentences and rehabilitation program are completed.
Examine The Proposed Solution
Construct and renovate
- Build a new jail facility next to the current Justice Center with an estimated 240 bed capacity.
- Renovate the current Justice Center for justice-related services, such as the Sheriff’s operations, jail auxiliary services, emergency management, justice system training/meeting space and Juvenile/Probate Court.
- Both the jail addition and the renovated current building are anticipated to be more energy efficient, though the larger facilities will require additional operating funds.
- Staffing will be more efficient and safety will be improved in the new jail design, but the increased population will require increased staffing.
- Current funding for the jail and justice center operations will continue, with the added cost of construction, renovation and expanded operations financed by increasing the sales tax rate from 6.5% to 6.8%.
- Continuing funding is needed to cover operating costs that will grow and for future maintenance to justice system buildings.
- Voter approval will mean that current sales tax on a $10 taxable purchase will change from $.65 to $.68, a 3-cent increase.
- Only .75% of the 6.5% sales tax currently stays in the county. All of the .3% will also stay local.
What this means for Wayne County citizens and visitors:
- A cost of 3 cents on a $10 purchase
- Wayne County’s sales tax rate would still be lower than 68 of Ohio’s 88 counties
- Safer streets and neighborhoods
- Greater effectiveness in treatment and for rehabilitation accountability