One of the functions of government is to provide services that are not normally provided by other entities. Among these services is the criminal justice system, which has three main components: 1) Police 2) Courts and 3) Corrections. This report deals with the future facility needs of two of these components: Police; and Corrections.
The focus of this discussion is public safety communications, the justice facilities and incarceration projections for City of Barberton. The goal is to provide population projections and guidelines from which policy/decision-makers can act. The consequences of these decisions may not be known for ten to twenty years.
Barberton, well as most all other jurisdiction in Summit County, has recently consolidated its public safety communications and put an enhanced 9-1-1 emergency phone system in operation. The 9-1-1 dispatch center is located in the police facility, discussed below, and handles the public calls for service from both the police and fire departments.
The communications center is staffed by a combination of civilian dispatchers and sworn police officers. While the center is staffed by two persons at all times, the combination of the physical layout of the communications center and the combination of duties make it virtually impossible for both dispatchers to handle radio communications at the same time. During non-business hours the officer-dispatcher is responsible for handling walk-in complaints and overseeing the inmates in the jail.
While the communications center is now behind a locked door it is not truly secure and self-sustaining. The layout of the radios and personnel preclude the second operator for easily communicating with the fire department and the primary operator can not reach the fire service alarms, equipment and the traffic signals without moving from reach of the radio and phone position at the console. The design and operations preclude these operations by the second operate. An interesting note on operations comes from the 1991 Fourth of July celebration when the volume of calls caused the complete breakdown of operations in the communications center. The volume of calls coupled with the nature of the responses left the dispatchers helpless to satisfy the needs of the community.
A positive, secure and well designed communicates center is necessary to ensure communication and coordinations of both normal and emergency radio traffic. Providing for the accurate and timely flow of information between and among the Barberton safety forces as well as the safety forces of neighboring jurisdictions is extremely important and an essential element of the needs of the Barberton Safety forces.
The Barberton Police currently occupy the ground floor of the municipal building, built and occupied in the middle 1950's. The department has approximately 6,900 square feet of space. The space in use by the police department is totally inadequate from two points of view. First, it is too small. Current operations place extreme demands on the space and virtually all areas of operations are cramped. While exact space demands have not been calculated, accepted rules of thumb would indicate at least an additional 4,000 square feet. This addition would be to meet current needs and does not address future expansion or operational needs.
Secondly, the present police department layout does not allow for either a maximization of organizational flow or security. There is virtually no area within the space allocated for the police department where the public can not gain access on their own. Those areas that are behind security, are in fact not all that secure. This lack of security is apparent on several fronts. Almost all offices are accessible to the public with no screening or visitor control. Officers, complaining parties, witnesses, offenders and the general public, in the building for non-police reasons all use the same corridors, stairs and public areas. Further complicating matters is that inmates are taken to court on the same public elevator for general use.
The need for a better organized and secure space by the police department is complemented by the needs of the City of Barberton for more administration space within the current limitations of the municipal building.
The recommendation is for a free standing police
facility complete with a properly designed, implemented and equipped communications
center as well as sufficient space to meet current and future needs of
the police well into the twenty-first century.
Local corrections has at its root function control and confinement with the notion of protecting society by allowing the proper functioning of the criminal justice system and the administration of justice. Under today's guidelines, this incarceration must provide safe and humane holding while operating in as efficient a manner as possible. A jail is a very dynamic institution. Unlike prisons, that have a much more stable and homogeneous population, jails have both a high turnover and diversity of inmates. A jail normally can have a variety of inmates ranging from extremely violent felons to minor misdemeanants charged with a traffic offense. Also, the legal status varies from those who have yet to be adjudicated to those awaiting transfer to a state prison.
When planning a new jail facility, it is important to keep in mind that jail administrators, for the most part, have almost no control over when an inmate enters or leaves the jail. The only control the jail administrator has is the placement and security of inmates within the facility. It is the administrator's responsibility to protect society from the inmate and to provide the inmate with safe, secure constitutional confinement. The basic and most significant tool that a jail administration can use for this task is a proper classification system and a physical facility with the flexibility to adjust to changing classification needs.
As stated above, a jail is a very dynamic type of institution. The coming and going of inmates, different degree of criminality and possible propensity for violence of the inmates combined with the conflicts caused by close confinement between inmates themselves and staff, make jail management difficult and a delicate balancing of opposing forces. Proper classification and arrangement of the physical facility can facilitate management.
Classification should be based on the following factors (not necessarily in order of importance):
1) Degree and type of crime;
2) Pre-trial or sentenced;
3) Criminal history;
6) Propensity toward violence.
It is obvious that one does not want to mix men and women in general population (although it is done in some European Countries). The same notion goes for mixing young offenders with older or nonviolent with violent or sex offenders.
While felons are legally considered more dangerous and subject to stronger legal sanctions, they are often not the most troublesome jail inmates. The inmate who is confined on misdemeanor charges may often be more difficult to handle in the jail environment. Also, research has shown that an inmate's responses to dormitory type confinement is not necessarily related to their degree of criminality. In the issue at hand, the Barberton Jail may not have to incarcerate felons beyond initial appearance. This, still, does not remove the requirement for proper classification nor the potential for holding felons in the future.
An area that offers sentencing opportunities to the courts, and general problems for jail administrators, is weekenders. These inmates are sentenced to serve their time on either individual or multiple weekends. This type of inmate sentence has always existed, but with the revision of Ohio's D.W.I. laws, their numbers have increased significantly. This is a practice that currently exists in Barberton. Weekend sentences help maintain an individual's connection with the community, i.e., job and family. Also, the Barberton Jail is only a five day facility and longer sentences can be served over a series of weekends.
When making jail population projections it is important to keep in mind that if one plans for facility capacity based on averages, or reflects on the history of under-sized facilities, then the new facility will be operating in excess of designed capacity a significant part of the time. Also, to allow for proper inmate management there must be enough "classification space" to enable inmates to be housed within their proper classification. This means that there should in reality be more bed space than is expected to be used, at least 95+% or more of the time. These notions have be used in projecting the City of Barberton Jail bed needs.
In 1983, Ohio had 121 jails with 7,087 adult inmates. This represents an increase of 32 percent of inmates from 1978, a five year period. From 1985 to 1986, nationwide, there was a 6 percent increase in male inmates and a 13 percent increase in female inmates. In 1986, approximately 8 percent of jail inmates were female. Overall, slightly more that 49 percent of all inmates incarcerated are sentenced, while the balance are unsentenced, pre-trial.
While more current figures have not yet been released, it appears that jail incarcerations are continuing to increase. This is partially due to the escalated drug enforcement and the continual demand from society to deal with problems such as drunk driving with jail terms. This is reflected by the legislature's enactment of the mandatory D.W.I. sentencing rules. At this time, it is difficult to predict the future of the D.W.I. laws, but there does not appear to be any easing of these guidelines and in fact there seems support for the further tightening and lengthening of these sentences.
The driving force behind the need for corrective action concerning the jail facilities for the City of Barberton is the lack of County space for misdemeanant sentence serving. The City through its Municipal Court has been unable to have its misdemeanant sentences served. The County is currently under a Federal Court order and has been involved in emergency releases of inmates for several years. The impact of this policy is that almost no misdemeanants are being incarcerated in the County Jail.
A new County Jail is expected to have open by early August, 1990. Still, the long term effect of the jail opening is not expected to increase the number of misdemeanant beds.
The City of Barberton, since 1965, has a steadily declining population. From a 1965 high of over 35,000, the City's population is projected at approximately 27,000 by the year 2010. This decline reflects the general population decline of Ohio. This population projection does not forecast a significant decline in jail space requirements. General population projections for Barberton, the other jurisdictions of the Municipal Court and the State of Ohio can be found in the figures 10 and 11 at the end of this report.
There currently is one jail facility in City of Barberton: the Barberton City Jail, a five day holding plant. The Jail is rated at seven males and two females in separate ranges. The facility is extremely limited in available amenities and service options. There is no kitchen or medical facilities and there is a complete lack of program space. The average daily population of the Jail has risen from about 3.5 inmates in 1988 to 4.5 inmates a day in 1989. An examination of sentencing patterns in the Barberton Municipal Court shows a daily incarceration pattern of approximately nine inmates a day sentenced to the County Jail. This would make the current range of inmates from twelve to fourteen inmates a day.
The Barberton facility is housing more pre-trial then sentenced inmates. Most of the unsentenced inmates are misdemeanants able to meet the bond schedule and be processed quickly through the system. Fifty-four percent of the inmates are pre-trial, thirty-eight percent are sentenced and eight percent were not marked as either. The jail schedules the arrival time of persons sentenced for misdemeanors. The schedule extends several months ahead. Information on the other inmate characteristics can be found in the figures at the end of this report.
The current City of Barberton jail facility opened in 1954. It is the basement of the Municipal building sharing space with the police department. Neither the jail facility nor the space allotted to the Police Department is adequate nor truly operational.
After consultation with various members of the Barberton Police Department, Clerk of Courts and various other officials of the City of Barberton a history of the jail and a pattern of it's operations were established. As noted above the jail has seen its average daily population increase. The City of Barberton has faced a lack of jail bed space for many years. However, it is increasingly becoming more acute due to such factors as the declining service provided by the County, the D.W.I. laws, increased drug awareness and enforcement and other incarceration practices and laws that have served to increase the demand for local jail space. These pressures have put demanding needs on the City to provide jail housing in order for the Police Department and the Courts to function.
Projecting almost anything twenty years into the future is difficult. When considering jail populations several factors such as growth rate of the area, past incarceration practices and patterns, future legal trends as well as future trends in jail standards all must be considered. Adding to the difficulty in making the projections is the adaption by the system to the current lack of incarceration space. The legitimate need for bed space is hidden and unavailable from just examining history and usage. It is safe to assume that there is a significant unfilled demand for bed space for the Police Department and the Court both for Barberton cases and those cases' outside the City, but within the Court's jurisdiction. Space for future expansion of the City's incarceration needs must be allotted in the projections. No projection should be cast in stone, but arguably these figures represent the jail needs of the City into the twenty-first century. However, the projection does not consider any change in the State Prison system that would either backup inmates going to State Penitentiaries or returning responsibility for inmates back to the local scene. This projection represents a fulfillment of current federal court requirements and state regulations so that City of Barberton can render its legal and moral obligation to its citizens.
After taking these factors into consideration, allowing
for the population factors and the trends in incarceration practices the
following recommendation is made:
These general guidelines and projections when combined
with a compatible and adaptable physical facility will give the City of
Barberton the tools to deal with both its general policing and the City's
adult incarceration needs.
Barberton, as well as most other political jurisdictions in the Country, finds itself with increasing demands for services, a shrinking revenue basis combined with a general citizen resistance to increased taxation. Thus the political phase "do more with less" is often heard and operative at all levels of government.
Unfortunately, misdemeanant incarceration is and will remain a very scarce and expensive resource for the foreseeable future, in Summit County. At this time, there appears to be neither State nor Federal monies to alleviate the problem. While sentenced misdemeanant space is an issue for the court, all the police departments in the Court Jurisdiction are in need of pre-trial holding.
One way of beginning the process is with the notion of the communications facility as a central dispatch center for public safety and disaster communications and coordination. The Federal Government does have funds for such projects. With the "seed" monies to preform the needed upgrades to the communications the other projects, police and holding can be implemented as funding becomes available.
Please Note: Information for this study was gathered from both Police and Clerk of Court records and sampled using currently acceptable scientific methods. The numbers on the following charts represents about ¼ of the actual count.