My second major objection to the Ashtabula County Commissioners’ new jail is its location — 1½ miles from the county courthouse complex.
The current county jail is attached to the county courthouse, which is home to the three common pleas courtrooms. The common pleas courtrooms are responsible for all of the felony cases.
The county courthouse is also home to Eastern County Court, which regularly handles initial appearances for newly incarcerated individuals. Incarcerated individuals appearing in those four courtrooms are walked through the public hallways to the courtrooms by sheriff’s deputies and courthouse security officers.
There was a proposal, completely rejected by the Commissioners, to extend the jail at its current location. This proposal includes a secured hallway, away from the public, in which felony offenders can be safely escorted to their court appearances. Moving the county jail to 1½ miles away only requires that all of these felony offenders must be transported from the jail to the courthouse. So instead of being able to walk the county’s most dangerous offenders in a
secured hallway from the jail to the respective courtrooms, the Commissioners prefer to house them 1½ miles away, adding a lifetime expense of transportation and security issues. While some court appearances can be held virtually, constitutional due process still requires that offenders appear personally in the courtroom.
I agree that the current county jail is in very poor condition and action must be taken, but I cannot support this plan of the current County Commissioners. Please join me in voting “no” on the 20 year sales tax increase.