Bedford Ramblings
Steve Mills

What is involved in the new "justice center"?

Posted Thursday, June 2, 2016, at 8:40 AM
View 25 comments
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  • I remember we are over crowded, but so is the school system so should that take precedence in an effort to divert more 'future' criminals?

    In addition to physical buildings, should we add more classes that deal with the everyday reality students will face upon graduation, or are they already there?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Jun 2, 2016, at 8:39 AM
  • Here is another angle of question. Is something done in our local jail that attempts prisoner reform or are they just held there and put back out of the street, go to prisons or..?

    How long are we allowed to incarcerate someone locally, and what level of crime changes them from local to a full blow prison?

    Again, no criticism, just curious if anyone knows?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Jun 2, 2016, at 8:47 AM
  • Misdemeanors, such as simple possession, public intoxication and the like, will "leave" the perpetrator in the county jail and a felony charge will make them wards of the state and eligible for state prisons.

    Not all state inmates are transferred to state prisons. Some are left in our county jail (normally lesser of the felony offenses), as a means of revenue to help support the day to day costs at our county jail.

    To answer your other questions, there were programs in the past that help try and dissuade them from returning to their previous "mistakes", such as GED programs, church services, vocational programs, AA/NA meetings, etc., but I cannot elaborate if there is anything currently available, other than church services.

    It is sad to say, but overcrowded schools will not hold precedence over the jail situation, as the jail situation is pretty much in the hands of the state and at this point, failing to make a plan SOON to replace the current jail, will lead to the failure/closure of it and will result in much more difficulty for our city and county justice system, if it is shut down and there is no option to house them locally.

    -- Posted by Ghost_Rider on Thu, Jun 2, 2016, at 10:05 AM
  • Thanks Ghost_Rider.

    How is it a revenue maker? The State?

    I presume if the jail is forced to close we will have to pay the bill for OUR perpetrators to be housed? Which is cheaper?

    What other issues would evolve from that?

    Sorry to hit you with all these questions but it sounds as if you have had some direct previous knowledge of how it works.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Jun 2, 2016, at 1:14 PM
  • Yes, the state pays the county per head to house state inmates and also covers their medical expenses (a HUGE cost for the county, when I worked there!). Of course, pretty much like some insurance, the county will pay the costs for their state inmates and then bill the state to get reimbursed, but that is a waiting game most times.

    Actual cost to house the inmates outweighs the payment the county receives, unless there has been some change since I was there and if we have to pay someone to house our inmates, it would be even greater still, especially for the county inmates, that should be our responsibility (if our jail were closed).

    Also, the cost to transport inmates to and from court from other locations, if our jail were shut down, plus medical expenses, extra labor hours needed to transport them to and from court, doctor's visits, etc. will be compounded over our current expenditures.

    At the time of my tenure with the jail, medical expenses were quite EXTREME and I don't imagine there has been any real change, except for being much higher today.

    In reference to your earlier comment in regards to programs and such to try and deter history repeating itself and keeping them out of the system, there are only so many hours in a day/night and so many man hours to accommodate these programs and with what was there when I worked there, there wasn't enough of either to do what should be done. Of course, the other side of that is (and I am speaking from experience, not conjecture on this), you can offer all forms of programs, assistance, etc. to them, but there will ALWAYS be those that will be back no matter what you try to do for them. I was almost always trying to help those that I felt deserved the second (third, fourth, fifth chance...), but was disappointed quite often by those that abused my acts of kindness and/or recommendations for help. Quite saddening and at times maddening, when this happened. It is depressing to look at the police blotter/intake articles in the T-G, almost 5 years later, and still see some of the same names in there quite often.

    -- Posted by Ghost_Rider on Thu, Jun 2, 2016, at 5:46 PM
  • The budget alloted for state prisoners is a bit higher than the actual cost of housing them locally.

    The state prisons are overcrowded as well, so they look to local jails for space to alleviate their burden.

    Imo, repealing laws for "victimless crimes" such as drugs, prostitution, etc. is an obvious fix that would cost nothing.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Thu, Jun 2, 2016, at 5:49 PM
  • quitemike,

    Although an EXCELLENT idea for larger municipalities, your suggestion in regards to "victimless crimes" would also require additional resources, staffing, equipment, etc. to accommodate.

    It would require the ankle monitors, the computers and network to use them, as well as staffing to monitor them.

    This has been presented before, but has been "shot down" each time due to being cost prohibitive (I believe was the reason/excuse).

    I am not trying to argue against your suggestion, just simply providing some background on this "from the inside".

    I actually agree the ankle monitors would be a GREAT option and should be more closely studied and considered than in the past.

    -- Posted by Ghost_Rider on Thu, Jun 2, 2016, at 5:58 PM
  • Ghost Rider,

    My idea wouldn't require ankle monitors.

    I'm talking about repealing drug laws and other victimless crime laws altogether.

    If your life's ambition is to be a crack head, you're only harming yourself (robbery, theft, and assault are seperate and distinct offenses), so have at it.

    But we should also repeal laws dealing with socialized medicine first though. If you want to be a crack head, deal with the consequences yourself.

    Most studies say well over half of the inmate population is there for drug offenses.

    If they were legalized, and blanket reprieves given, every jail and prison is no longer overcrowded.

    Then we have beds for real criminals, and don't have to let them out to make room for inmates with mandatory minimum sentences for having too much of a naturally growing plant.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Thu, Jun 2, 2016, at 7:42 PM
  • QuietMike, It is an interesting idea and I agree somewhat but how many prisoners are in just for possession, or are they in there eventually for stealing, DUI, etc.?

    I've had a small taste of the frustration, anger, disappointment you mentioned Ghost_Rider when trying to help first, second, third time offenders. I used to work with youth who had relatively minor brushes with the law, but many could not seem to straighten up.

    After visiting the families from where they came, I could see how they turned out the way they did and why jail was just another stop in their attempt to get out of the life they were experiencing.

    In some cases, jail was actually better than the physical, verbal and emotional abuse they were getting at home.

    I thought I would be good in that field but found that I got too "invested" in the situations and probably would have burned out after a few short years.

    I really think it would be good to "rotate" job assignments in law enforcement and social work, etc. to give the people a break from the emotional roller coaster.

    If one gets "hardened" to it they lose some of the value they bring to the job originally and their personal life is probably affected as well.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Jun 2, 2016, at 9:30 PM
  • Steve, The Bureau of prisons puts out reports of their inmates that breaks fiwn the offenses.

    Theft is seperate from drug offenses in this report, yet drug offenses still account for hslf of the inmates.


    I will say it is exceptionally rare for soneone to go to prison for a DUI as opposed to a jail, as they would have to be devlared a habitual offender first for it to become a felony charge.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Fri, Jun 3, 2016, at 5:10 AM
  • Wow. Sorry about all the typos. Pre-caffiene and big fingers on a tiny phone screen sometimes don't play well together.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Fri, Jun 3, 2016, at 5:14 AM
  • I TOTALLY understand the cell phone small, screen letters, big fingers AND auto-fill issue. :-/

    So felonies are the ones that usually see prison time?

    I would agree with the DUI, but I do have an issue with how many times someone can do that before they REALLY get stopped.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jun 3, 2016, at 8:17 AM
  • Prison is for felonies, people convicted of misdemeanors are housed in county jails,though there are probably some extrordinary exceptions on occasion.

    Agree with the "frequent flyers", and not just with DUIs either. Every cop or jailer can tell you folks spend most of their weekends, especially in the summer months, in jail.

    Even simply watching the blotter, you'll see certain names repeating with shocking regularity.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Fri, Jun 3, 2016, at 1:23 PM
  • *

    Mike, I agree that much of this could be avoided by changing the law. But what about making those that break the law actually pay for their own care? With their care ONLY being what they pay for?

    -- Posted by fair share on Fri, Jun 3, 2016, at 4:26 PM
  • I am guessing that few have much money so are you proposing a work program?

    I thought they used to do that in prison but not sure if that is now considered cruel and inhuman. LOL

    BUT I think it is a great idea. It might also teach them a trade that they can get paid for later although many employers might not like that work reference.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jun 3, 2016, at 5:00 PM
  • *

    Doesn't really matter to me if it is "cruel and inhuman". They ought to have to take care of themselves just like everyone else. If they have to stamp out license plates instead of lifting weights and watching TV to pay for their care and feeding then that is ok with me. If they don't want to do that, all they have to do is obey the law (or at least don't get caught).

    -- Posted by fair share on Fri, Jun 3, 2016, at 5:36 PM
  • Many jails and prisons do charge a per diem to the inmates, but collecting it is another matter.

    Debtors prisons have long been illegal, and a bad credit report means little to someone with jail time on their background.

    Agreed with the working. The work farms such as Angola should be standard. More deterrent value, and work burns up energy and stress possibly reducing violence in the prisons

    -- Posted by quietmike on Fri, Jun 3, 2016, at 7:32 PM
  • *

    Would be great if Joe Arpaio would move to Shelbyville.

    -- Posted by fair share on Fri, Jun 3, 2016, at 8:25 PM
  • He does have a "no crap" approach but the people would have to back him as well. I believe most do out there.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jun 3, 2016, at 9:30 PM
  • If an inmate has more then say a 90 day sentence it should be mandatory that they go to education classes! Classes like self awareness, personal worth, how to respect and consider others, daily decision making, cost of living math, self time-management, communication skills, healthy living, critical thinking, trade values in the work place, etc, etc, (and I could go on with structured mind set studies at a personal or individual level) and would teach anyone what they need to prevent repeat offenses and even self betterment in most cases! Well, that's my opinion anyway without trying to be critical for what exists! "Fair Share" was correct when saying it's better then allowing them television all day, because whats showing these days on the tube just promotes bad living and worldly norms if you ask me! A little bit of something is always better then a whole lot of nothing!

    Granted, some it would never work on, however with time it could work wonders with many. Steve also hit the nail on the head so to speak stating that allot of the time the environment they come from is or can be the cause or be worse then being in jail. Especially with those who are still young adults (like say under 25 yrs. of age). Most peoples thinking comes from the environment they are in at the time to start with, which can result in disregard for authority and rebellion. When its not taught and understood as a self discipline there is the normal sowing of wild oats stage in young men and some women that can get them in trouble and stuck in the system . Law offenses can effect all parties involved, and get intense when it all starts to show up as felonies being committed!

    In this day and and time it almost seems like its all just a process. The court issues the set punishment for a crime after an officer does his job, ending with the state paying money per head for housing an inmate! I kind of see it this way because I feel both inmate and authority figures are both humans and have lives outside of the system. It's like if you end up in the system you can get kind of monotonously stuck from time served to probation to violation and back to court then more time to serve without the first party (the authority) even noticing. It all cost money or is making money for the system. Even for small infractions like simple possession of weed can place you so far into the system it could almost be sighted as oppression it seems! When it gets to a multiple repeat or habitual crime it can take a life! When change that's needed don't get noticed before it's too late, or no one steps up to help the broken it can destroy more then just the criminal, I've seen it tear families apart and leave small children without a parent.

    If someone would come along and take a good look at the process and find or create a constructive way to socially educate those incarcerated they might find life for them and those who have to work it and or the process itself a little easier to deal with! Just saying!

    The "Justice Center" is a great idea in my opinion! transporting prisoners from jail to court is much safer for those involved and cheaper on transportation. If well thought out and constructed it could house anything in the county that deals with the courts, circuit clerk offices, probation offices, etc. It would free up the court house for elections, taxes, county committee meetings, etc.

    There is no need to build the center or a jail though that has to be replaced because of overcrowding and safety issues in 10yrs. Getting us back in the same mess of the state stepping in and risking shutting it down in a short period of time would be ridiculous. For some reason we have the the habit of saving a few dollars at the time that causes us other issues or more money later, then if we would have thought it out totally to start with. In other words we are growing fast around here so build a jail that houses more then expected and one strong enough to last at least 40yrs or more and a justice center that is large enough to accommodate all the needs(present and future)! That way we won't be spending millions to redo, expand, or fix other issues in a short while later. It could even be done in stages if it saved cost, however don't cut the quality or the need for space!

    Seriously, no offense to those here in the county working towards a better county. I really don't claim to know all the issues or what's involved, I can only imagine! I appreciate those who's time is well spent with the task of working for our community. I am merely a life long resident and wouldn't even start to choose anywhere but here to live where my heart is! Just saying!

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Fri, Jun 3, 2016, at 10:25 PM
  • Hmmm, expanding the scope. Might be something to it. At least build the shell for larger things and do the inside work later? Interesting idea to discuss.

    Getting back to Quiet Mike's thought of decriminalizing some of the things people do to themselves, like smoking a joint, or having drugs for your own consumption. How much would that help the overcrowding and at what expense to our society?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Jun 4, 2016, at 12:29 PM
  • I heard a man at the store telling someone, why don't we just put bars on the windows of the school, build a fence and let the inmates be there! It is good enough for our kids! Then use the money that would be saved to build a new school. This is Shirley to simple???? hp

    -- Posted by horsepoopperson on Sat, Jun 4, 2016, at 3:09 PM
  • I used to know Shirley. Lived in M'boro.

    Not sure if the schools are safe enough to keep folks in, probably not even to keep them out if they wanted in.

    They have to use the old school for a school anyway. Too may folks wanting to live in Bedford County.

    I can understand why but this "progress" could be our downfall.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Jun 4, 2016, at 3:46 PM
  • Steve, the stats say 50% for the overcrowding.

    As for the expense to society, what expense?

    Most high school kids could easily buy dope now if they want it, so what are the laws gaining us?

    Half of the people in the Vanderbilt burn ward are there for meth labs exploding.

    Was there a sudden uptick in alcoholism when prohibition ended?

    Even if there was a rise, that's the life and consequences they chose.

    The same would hold for other drugs.

    Balance that slight possible uptick with fewer killings over turf wars or black market deals gone bad.

    Also, decriminalizing so many technical outlaws would make it easier for folks to cooperate with police as witnesses to real crimes as they wouldn't be afraid of going to jail for their drug use.

    Also there is the issue of a multi-billion dollar market that suddenly becomes legitimate and can enter our economy with all the attendant benefits that money could offer.

    The down sides (there are always some) would be fewer jobs for cops, lawyers, judges and pridon guards.

    A tenth of the money currently spent on the unwinnable drug war would make a monumental difference in treatment .

    Court ordered rehab is rarely successful anyway as the person truly has to want to be helped to have a chance.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sat, Jun 4, 2016, at 5:55 PM
  • Drug courts have been proven to be very successful in cutting down the recidivism rate and jail overcrowding in every single county that has them. However, you must have people involved in the judiciary and law enforcement that are willing to put forth the time and effort that it takes to establish them and insure their success.

    -- Posted by Tim Lokey on Sun, Jun 5, 2016, at 2:01 PM
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