Historic Day in Lake County…Judiciary Follows the Law

By Brian Massie, Citizen Journalist

In August of 2022, we challenged the Lake County Corrections Board for violating the Ohio Open Meetings Act. The Ohio Sunshine Law states that a public body must conduct their public business in open meetings.

From the Attorney General’s website:

What is the Ohio Open Meetings Act?
The Open Meetings Act requires public bodies in Ohio to conduct all public business in open meetings that the public may attend and observe. This means that if a public body is meeting to discuss and vote on or otherwise decide public business, the meeting must be open to the public. ORC 121.22.”

What is a public body, as defined in the Ohio Open Meetings Act?
Public bodies are decision-making groups of state or local government agencies or institutions. Examples of these bodies include school boards, city councils, and boards of trustees.”

Here is the video we recorded of the Lake County Prosecutor, Charles Coulson, pleading a “mea culpa” for not having the public invited to the Corrections Board meeting.

The following is the very first video of a Lake County Corrections Board meeting. In attendance were the three Commissioners, all of the judges, four representatives of the Sheriff’s Department, Prosecutor, Health Director, the ADAMHS Board Director and the Chairman of the Corrections Board, Craig Barry.

Chairman Barry discusses his very extensive report on the “Criminal Comprehensive Plan for 2023”.

Chairman Barry provided some very interesting statistics about the Lake County inmtes.

  1. Fifty-two percent of the inmates in our jail are from outside of the County.
  2. The average number of inmates in our jail is 305 per day.
  3. Forty-two percent of the inmates test positive for drugs.

The average number of inmates at 305 is disconcerting to us. The proposed new $170 million Public Safety Center (read: jail) is currently designed for 504 beds. That is an increase of 199 (65.2%) beds. What justifies the need for the additional beds?

Another concern for the Commissioners is Judge John P. O’Donnell’s request to consider building a new Juvenile Justice Center. Commissioner John Hamercheck was very quick to say that we do not have the funding for a new Juvenile Center also, but it appears that they will at least look into the additional cost to add the Judge’s request to the overall project.

The Commissioners will be considering soon a $5 million contract to draw detailed plans, and get more accurate pricing on the new Public Safety Center. It would be incumbent on the Commissioners to actually decide what they want to build.

The following chart provides the average jail population count since 2010.

Chairman Barry also mentioned that the State government wants low level offenders, even with felonies, to be placed on probation rather that be put in jail.

The Honorable Judge Vincent A. Culotta was very clear in his statement that, regardless of cost savings, he will not put felons back onto the Lake County streets where citizens may be harmed.

Kudos to Judge Culotta!

Here is the balance of Chairman Barry’s extensive report:

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Categories: Lake County - General, Uncategorized

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