The Hamilton County Grand Jury, in a final report, praised the county's community corrections program.
The panel, headed by foreman Bob Smith, said the program using electronic monitoring is very cost effective. The group said the five percent recidivism rate for the program is excellent.
It recommends expanding community corrections for non-violent offenders.
The Grand Jury, as have prior grand juries, recommended more work and less television for those housed at the Workhouse at Silverdale.
The report says starting a vegetable garden there would save on food costs and give employment to inmates.
It was recommended that the County Commission fund some "old-fashioned truant officers" to make sure children are attending school.
The grand jurors said jurors should be paid at least $20 per day.
Here is the full Grand Jury report as delivered to Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern:
The Regular Grand Jury for the January – April, 2012 term presents the following report:
The members of the Regular Grand Jury appreciated this opportunity to serve as a part of the Criminal Justice System in Hamilton County. Through this educational experience, we are much more aware of all facets of the Criminal Justice process. The experience of serving on the Grand Jury has been “valuable, eye-opening, and sometimes depressing”.
Listening to the various law enforcement officers testify has made us very appreciative that these individuals desire to protect the law abiding citizens of Hamilton County from those who would perform criminal acts.
The legal information provided by Jerry Sloan, Assistant District Attorney was very valuable. We appreciated Billie Jeno serving as our notetaker for this term.
The tours of Silverdale, County Jail, Juvenile Detention Center and the presentation about the Community Corrections Program were very informative.
The compassion shown by Juvenile Court Judge Suzanne Bailey for the juvenile offenders was inspirational.
The Regular Grand Jury issues the following commendations and recommendations:
SILVERDALE FACILITY (CCA)
(1) The facility appeared to be administered in a professional, humane manner and operated efficiently.
(2) The buildings were very clean and well maintained.
(3) The County Director of Corrections, Facility Warden and Head Nurse appeared to be very professional and knowledgeable.
(4) The number of different programs available to the inmates, if utilized, offer inmates the opportunity to become productive citizens upon their release.
(5) The video visitation equipment at Silverdale is a very good addition to the facility, to reduce the flow of contraband into the institution.
(6) The physical organization of the facility and the classification of inmates, based on the offense, appear to work very well.
(7) Using inmates to help clean up damage in the most recent tornado was very commendable.
(1) This Grand Jury, as previous juries, encourages the administration of the Silverdale facility to find as many work opportunities as possible for the inmates, since this is a “work house”. Also, if the inmate does not have a high school diploma, he/she should be required to work toward a G.E.D.
(2) Reduce the number of hours inmates may watch television, and replace with more worthwhile activities.
(3) Develop a vegetable garden for cultivation by the inmates. This would provide an additional work outlet and reduce food costs.
(4) With reference to #7 above, perhaps, in the future, inmates, could be used to help in cleanup operations in other types of disasters and/or bad weather.
(5) The facility administration needs to be aware that, on the day the Grand Jury toured, there was an offensive odor in the older part of the men’s unit.
(1) Overall, these programs help keep some individuals from being incarcerated, and thus lower the cost for housing those individuals.
(2) The House Arrest Program with Electronic Monitoring is very cost effective.
(3) The 5% recidivism rate for this program is excellent.
These programs, where possible, need to be expanded for non-violent offenders.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
(1) The Grand Jury would request that the State Legislature seriously consider more severe penalties for repeat offenders, both misdemeanants and felons
(2) The County Commission should provide the funding to employee a number of “old fashioned” truant officers to assist keeping children in school.
(3) For the tours of the correctional facilities, either two vans are needed or one van equipped to hold fourteen jurors plus the driver.
(4) Once again, this Grand Jury, as have many in the past, is strongly urging the State Legislature to close the “loophole” in State law, which permits automobiles 10 years or older to be sold without a title to a scrap dealer. It is totally unacceptable for an individual to take an illegally acquired vehicle, ten years or older, to a scrap dealer and receive money. Oftentimes, when the owner discovers that the vehicle is gone, it is already crushed at the scrap yard. In addition, crushing the vehicle destroys evidence which could be used in Court.
(5) Due to the current increase in fuel prices, jurors need to be paid at least $20.00 per day.
(6) Utilize more technology for all the paperwork needed in the criminal justice system.
CASES HEARD THIS TERM
During the January – April, 2012 term, the Regular Grand Jury heard witnesses testify on 662 cases.