REGISTER VIEWPOINT: $200,000 band-aid for jail

Erie County commissioners this month approved another $50,000 for sheriff Terry Lyons so he can continue his Band-Aid approach
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Erie County commissioners this month approved another $50,000 for sheriff Terry Lyons so he can continue his Band-Aid approach to fixing the overcrowding problem at the jail.

That brings the total to $200,000 -- for this year alone -- to house inmates in jails where elected officials provide more effective leadership and more jail space.

After more than a decade ofsimilar expenses each year, it appears the elected officialsin Erie County -- Lyons andcommissioners Tom Ferrell and Nancy McKeen -- have even given up the idea that lip service might solve this problem.

They abandoned themiraculous fix they come up with earlier this year, an alternative sentencing facility, which was an idea first proffered way back in the 1990s.

And they can't get their arms around the monitoring bracelets for offenders that would allow non-violent inmates to serve their sentences at home, another idea that dates back more than10 years.

So nothing's been done, a hallmark of the current county leadership, and it's only costing taxpayers a lot of money for far too long without any thought or planning how to spend more wisely.

The best Ferrell, McKeen and even Bill Monaghan can come up with is lip service to the lip service this problem has been given for years. It's time commissioners and Lyons make a commitment, but before they can they must do their homework and determine a plan of action.

That does not mean yet another expensive study that will gather dust when it's complete, or yet another stab at anill-conceived tax hike.

Spending tax money for studies is not leadership; its a cop-out. Asking taxpayers to fork over more money is too. Thoughtful analysis from Lyons and his staff on what is needed now and in the future is long overdue, and that should be followed by a review of the options as to how to get there.

We urge Lyons, Ferrell, McKeen and Monaghan to quit mumbling on this important issue and find the courage to take a stand.