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Crime & Courts

Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Richmond County Sheriff's Office deals with $1.5 million budget cut

New rules designed to lower jail population, save money

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 9:49 PM
Last updated Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011 3:51 AM
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The Augusta Commission’s $1.5 million budget cut from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is for “efficiency savings-prisoner costs,” according to a city document.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said that means the jail will need to stay at about 1,000 inmates next year. The spending cut was approved in November.

Each inmate costs $45 per day to house, so the jail costs about $45,000 a day to run if kept at 1,000 inmates.

The jail used to house about 1,300 inmates a day. This overcrowding led to inmate fights and officer assaults, Strength said.

To help alleviate the overcrowding, City Administrator Fred Russell said, criminals considered “safe prisoners,” who are not a threat to society or themselves, won’t be jailed.

Strength said people who are arrested for crimes such as shoplifting, public drunkenness or minor traffic offenses and who live in the area are the ones who will be released.

There is also legislation in the works that would change Georgia laws on driving offenses. Right now, offenses such as running a red light can warrant being thrown into jail, Russell said.

Strength said his office supports the law change, but he added that it has come up before and he has yet to see it go through.

“I want to be clear,” Strength said. “This doesn’t mean we are going to arrest less people.”

Some, namely first offenders who the sheriff’s office is confident will return for their court date, will not be incarcerated.

The jails will play a part in next year’s budget. As of early December, the jail at 401 Walton Way is open on only one floor and houses 80 to 100 inmates. The rest are at the Charles B. Webster County Detention Center on Phinizy Road.

Strength said that by mid-January, the Walton Way jail will house only inmates overnight. It will be used simply to book and hold if it is too late to transport to Webster because that jail is still 12 to 18 months from completion.

“A lot more money will be saved when the people can be booked out there,” Strength said.

Both Russell and Strength said the public’s safety will not be jeopardized by the 2012 budget cuts.

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Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 12/07/11 - 11:04 pm
0
0
Simple posession of marijuana

Simple posession of marijuana needs to be added, I bet it would shave some more costs off.

specsta
6108
Points
specsta 12/07/11 - 11:19 pm
0
0
This an excellent decision

This an excellent decision from the city leaders/Sheriff's Office. It makes no sense to lock up folks for non-violent offenses. Sometimes Augusta's leaders actually get it right. Wisdom is a beautiful thing.

blues550
355
Points
blues550 12/07/11 - 11:21 pm
0
0
This is a disgrace.
Unpublished

This is a disgrace. Unbelievable. I could easily find the money in the county to fix this.

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 12/08/11 - 12:13 am
0
0
Ok if the sheriff's office

Ok if the sheriff's office will be saving this much by incarcerating fewer prisoners then how come there is no money in the budget to hire a few more deputies? Oh that's right, it has ti go for Deke's new PR department

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 12/08/11 - 12:47 am
0
0
Catch and release, I like

Catch and release, I like it:o) Now all we need are some RF tags to track them with and we're good.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 12/08/11 - 01:06 am
0
0
If the Sheriff feels the need

If the Sheriff feels the need to incarcerate less people for non-violent crimes, then so be it. But, as it stands, he has no choice since 1.5 million has been cut from his budget and he is therefore being forced to come up with additional cuts any way possible. Most non-violent offenders are not jailed now as they are generally bonded out within a few hours or released under other means.

Cuts in Public Safety Service, Incarceration and Training of Deputies generally result in lack of staff & training which result in law suits. This county already loses enough in law suits because they refuse to do what is right from the beginning and now they are forcing the Sheriff's hand even further with massive cuts in his budget.

In addition to this 1.5 million dollars being cut from the Sheriff...

$1 million was cut 2 years ago

Several hundred thousand have been cut each year through furlough days with no current end in sight which has caused a large reduction in force

The Sheriff's Deputies salaries are deplorable and not comparable to other similar type or neighboring agencies which is part of the reason current positions can't easily be filled and the turnover rate is too high. In reality, this costs us more due to training and equipping new deputies.

Over 40 Sworn Deputies positions have been deleted from the Sheriff in the past few years by the commission as well as other positions.

The list goes on but the bottom line is that the PRIMARY FUNCTION of any county commission is Public Safety and this commission and city administrator is placing our safety at the bottom of the list as well as the needs of those sworn to protect us.

In just the last 45 days, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has had a deputy killed in the line of duty, a deputy shot at, a deputy run over by a fleeing felon and another deputy shot at in Cherry Tree with his car being struck twice. These fine men and women continue to do their best each and every day to keep Augusta safe and the commission repays them with pay cuts, increased costs for insurance, furlough days, less training opportunities, etc.

It is time this city gets its priorities in order.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 12/08/11 - 01:54 am
0
0
The most proven way to reduce

The most proven way to reduce crime is to deal with it effectively, to include small and petty crimes:

The broken windows theory is a criminological theory of the norm setting and signaling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior. The theory states that monitoring and maintaining urban environments in a well-ordered condition may stop further vandalism as well as an escalation into more serious crime.

The theory was introduced in a 1982 article by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. Since then it has been subject to great debate both within the social sciences and in the public debate. The theory has been used as a motivation for several reforms in criminal policy.

William Joseph "Bill" Bratton CBE (born October 6, 1947) is an American law enforcement officer who served as the chief of police of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), New York City Police Commissioner, and Boston Police Commissioner.

Bratton began his police career at Boston Police Department before becoming Police Commissioner in New York City, where his zero-tolerance policy has been credited with reducing petty and violent crime. He moved to Los Angeles Police Department in 2001 reforming the police after the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and crime [both petty and violent] was again reduced.

Bratton's policing style is influenced by the broken windows theory that if minor, petty crime is not dealt with, crime will increase. He advocates having an ethnically diverse police force representative of the population, maintaining a strong relationship with the law-abiding population, tackling police corruption, being tough on gangs and a strict no-tolerance of anti-social behaviour.

Bratton was approached by British Prime Minister David Cameron to become the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner in July 2011, but this was blocked by the Home Office on the grounds the Commissioner must be a British national with experience of English law. Bratton instead was offered an advisor role to the British government which he accepted in August 2011.

Proper funding of police services WILL reduce crime. It is a primary function of local government to provide public safety and it is time that we do the same or our Sheriff and Deputies.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 12/08/11 - 03:38 am
0
0
Yeah, so will his deputies

Yeah, so will his deputies know for sure who needs to be locked up and who doesn't? Felony thefts seem to be free to walk as it is now. I think it will create problems really.

Riverman1
79682
Points
Riverman1 12/08/11 - 05:38 am
0
0
This is simply a recognition

This is simply a recognition that something has to be done to decrease our overcrowded jails and prisions. As we see, we are running out of money to keep them. In reality, this, the drug courts and veterans court are backdoor ways to decriminalize drug use.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 12/08/11 - 05:48 am
0
0
I still can't figure out why

I still can't figure out why people think decriminalizing drugs is a good thing. It might save $$$ but is it the right thing to do? How, besides the financial benefits, does this benefit our society?
As far as the article is concerned, this just seems like they've added another revolving door. The folks out there shoplifting can go at it now. Congrats to them. Happy shopping.

Riverman1
79682
Points
Riverman1 12/08/11 - 05:59 am
0
0
Patty, here is the thing.

Patty, here is the thing. With the billions thrown at the drug problem, it has only increased. It also brings a lot of crime with it as we all know, plus it leads to police corruption. If you goal is to actually decrease the use of drugs, let's try something different. Use the money to treat and educate, not incarcerate.

Actually, this debate is over. We have run out of money and have to try the decriminalizing method. When it reaches Augusta, GA with the drug courts and letting them out of jail, it has arrived nationally and won't go back.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 12/08/11 - 06:07 am
0
0
Police corruption exists with

Police corruption exists with or without drugs. We must separate the legalization of weed with the legalization of all street drugs. Weed isn't the only illegal substance on the streets. We still have crack, meth, cocaine, and a few others that are addictive and destroy lives. I just don't think it is the right thing to do. I do agree with treatment and education for those with simple possession, etc.

Brad Owens
4110
Points
Brad Owens 12/08/11 - 07:24 am
0
0
Pot should be legal. Regulate

Pot should be legal.

Regulate it don't Dissipate.

Brad

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 12/08/11 - 07:47 am
0
0
Weed should be, be…ah, I

Weed should be, be…ah, I forgot what I was going to say.

monkey165
0
Points
monkey165 12/08/11 - 09:08 am
0
0
How about for the city to

How about for the city to save some money they give up Pendleton King Park. This park does not belong to the city yet the Maintenance and upkeep, electricity to the park, water, and utilities for the caretakers house (electric, gas, phone, water) are all paid for by the city.

Also do away with the trailer at the new locks. Put a guard shack up for one person to sit in, hire security to man the shack, why are we paying employees a regular salary and then compensating them with a place to live. How many more employees are we housing with our taxes (not the ones being arrested)?

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 12/08/11 - 08:17 am
0
0
quick look at the data base
Unpublished

quick look at the data base for employees shows Jail 127 employees, Phinizy road 96 employees. Now if I am not mistaken that means we have far fewer prisoners at Phinizy than in the jail. What gives and who is in charge of assigning people to duties? By the way the officer sitting for hours on Tobacco road near Pinnacle subdivision should be patrolling that neighbiorhood. But then he wouldn't be making the quota, would he? To "serve and protect" But who do they serve and who do they protect when they are sitting like vultures?

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 12/08/11 - 08:18 am
0
0
P.S. why is the sheriff
Unpublished

P.S. why is the sheriff acting like the District Attorney in deciding who will be held for prosecution and who won't?

seenitB4
81877
Points
seenitB4 12/08/11 - 08:44 am
0
0
We still have crack, meth,

We still have crack, meth, cocaine, and a few others that are addictive and destroy lives.

Like patty said..we still have these people ---what do ya'll suggest we do with them?

InChristLove
22420
Points
InChristLove 12/08/11 - 08:59 am
0
0
"By the way the officer

"By the way the officer sitting for hours on Tobacco road near Pinnacle subdivision should be patrolling that neighbiorhood"

madgerman, are you speaking about the officer who sits in front of the church across from this subdivision who is hired by the church for traffic control, or is there a patrol car that sit's in this area every day? Just wondering if you were referring to the officer that sits there every Sunday.

InChristLove
22420
Points
InChristLove 12/08/11 - 09:24 am
0
0
Disregard my question

Disregard my question madgerman, the subdivision I'm referring to isn't Pinnacle.

allhans
23292
Points
allhans 12/08/11 - 02:26 pm
0
0
That we would even consider

That we would even consider legalizing a substance such as pot makes my heart ache. Can we fall any further?

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 12/08/11 - 09:47 am
0
0
I agree with everything

I agree with everything asitis stated above.
I disagree with legalizing weed and any other street drug. There is no benefit in legalizing it. Our society has enough problems.

irishfarmer
24
Points
irishfarmer 12/08/11 - 10:11 am
0
0
marijuana or pot as it is

marijuana or pot as it is called should not be made legal period. going easy on any drug offender or offense is not the way to do things or help with crime. sorry brad owens and taylor b but ya'll are wrong on this one.

irishfarmer
24
Points
irishfarmer 12/08/11 - 10:14 am
0
0
remember folks legal is legal

remember folks legal is legal and that is just fact. The only way to decrease drug use is to stop it not by making it legal. law and order is just this simple. sounds to me like alot of drugies just wanting their way. how about just saying no and living life in a legal way.

Riverman1
79682
Points
Riverman1 12/08/11 - 10:18 am
0
0
Irishfarmer, my friend, the

Irishfarmer, my friend, the whole problem is we haven't been able to stop even though billions have been spent. We can't stop it is the truth and we are out of money. Let's try another angle. Decriminalize, treat, educate, tax, control and any other measure. It's not only illegal drug use that's rampant, it's the crime that goes with it. We need another model of how to actually DECREASE usage.

HotDiva01
0
Points
HotDiva01 12/08/11 - 10:25 am
0
0
irishfarmer you are right on

irishfarmer you are right on this one and I agree.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 12/08/11 - 10:30 am
0
0
Legal is legal, and that is a

Legal is legal, and that is a fact. I agree. Doesn't make it right. There were plenty of things that used to be legal that arent now, that people have changed to make this country work. Some laws do not make sense. Its illegal to shoot a whale from a car in San Francisco.

irishfarmer
24
Points
irishfarmer 12/08/11 - 10:48 am
0
0
Taylor B: We are not in San

Taylor B: We are not in San Francisco. Thank God! We have our own values here in Georgia and we should keep them. If you know of a place that makes the things legal that you like or want then by all means feel free to move there. The it is legal somewhere else statement is weak and also I dont feel and others may or may not agree but I dont see leagalizing a certain drug as a way to make things better or work.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 12/08/11 - 11:06 am
0
0
Our own values? The

Our own values? The constitution of Georgia is printed on hemp paper. The founding fathers were genius and smoked like snoop dogg. I do not smoke pot, I have a job to keep and two boys that look up to me, but the war on drugs has FAILED. Your "values" have made Georgia the most incarcerated state in the country. There are tens of thousands of people locked up now that could be contributing to society instead of being a cost. Thats someones Dad, Mom, brother, coworker, etc sitting in jail for a plant. I guess we will stay the course... icebergs are soft, right?

Riverman1
79682
Points
Riverman1 12/08/11 - 11:22 am
0
0
The war on drugs is like

The war on drugs is like trying to send a spacecraft to some other galaxy. Sure it would be nice, but there comes a point where it costs too much money and we have to come down to earth. It appears Richmond Cty is doing just that.

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