Jail overcrowding is not going away anytime soon, and law enforcement officials say something desperately needs to be done to keep criminals off the streets.
Several alternatives to expanding the Erie County Jail have been discussed lately to helpe relieve overcrowding, including establishing a county alternative sentencing facility, a mental health court -- and now, a misdemeanor jail.
But one thing officials agree on is something needs to be done.
"I think it's a crisis, frankly," said Sandusky police Chief Kim Nuesse. "It's the elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about."
Both Nuesse and Perkins police Chief Tim McClung have proposed building a misdemeanor jail as a possible solution to the overcrowding. The jail would be part of a joint policing facility between the two police departments.
While building a misdemeanor jail could help the overcrowding situation, it will not take care of the problem, said Erie County Sheriff Terry Lyons.
Thursday the inmate population was at 120, which is 14 above the facility's official capacity. But only 16 of those people would qualify for misdemeanor jail, Lyons said.
Since 2000, Lyons has proposed building a misdemeanor jail three times. Two times grants were denied and a sales tax hike proposal last fall to fund the project was rejected by voters.
Read the complete story in the ePaper and in Sunday's Register