Does Lake County Need a New Jail?

Brian Massie, Citizen Journalist

We kept hearing from County officials that we need a new jail, and conversely a lot of opposing views on the need for a new jail from the general public. I decided that I needed to see the jail for myself so that I could report my observations to our readers.

I would like to thank Sheriff Frank Leonbruno, Jail Administrator Captain Cynthia Brooks, and Deputy Mario Eldridge for taking time out of their day to give me a tour of the County Jail.

My overall impression is that the jail built in 1990 was poorly designed, poorly constructed, and the taxpayers were used and abused with the construction of this facility. To spend additional taxpayers’ money on refurbishing the jail would truly be a waste of time and money.

Replacing the roof again would not solve the problems of space needed to operate a facility housing over 400 people. The average citizen is not aware of the challenges with housing, feeding, providing medical support, and ensuring that the constitutional rights afforded inmates are met on a 24/7 basis.

There were two items that quickly were obvious to me: (1) the jail was very clean, immaculate considering the severe lack of space, and (2) the men and women that work in the jail are at risk of physical harm from inmates – there is a real need for upgrading the surveillance equipment within the facility.

Here are a few pictures that I took during the tour. For security and privacy concerns for the inmates and officers, I was limited it what I could show our readers. Hopefully, they give you an idea of the physical condition of the building.

The picture with the door four stories up is a planned designed to evacuate personnel in the event of an emergency when normal egress from the building is impossible. A fire truck would be used to bring people to the ground. Unfortunately, the settling of the building makes opening the door very problematic.

Sheriff Leonbruno addresses the needs for a new jail.
Prosecutor Coulson addresses the needs for a new jail.
LFC’s Brian Massie discusses his tour of the jail, financing options and the change from an incarceration model to a rehabilitation model.

The State of Ohio is pushing a change in how detention facilities are to operate. Whether we call it a jail, justice center, or public safety center, there is a movement away from the incarceration model (keep inmates behind bars for punishment) to a rehabilitation model (help inmates resolve their issues so that there can be a meaningful reduction in the recidivism rates).

We will have several more articles on this subject. /Stay tuned.

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Categories: Lake County - General, Lake County Politics, Uncategorized

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