Our View: Who to blame for jail’s failures — and how to fix them

DKS Editors

The numbers are grim: the state of Ohio found a whopping 42 of 68 standard regulations in which Kent City Jail failed to comply with state standards. That’s a pretty bad report card to show Mom and Pop.

But, instead of hiding it under their bed, the jail’s officials had an earnest discussion with the Stater and TV2 about how such low marks can happen.

It turns out that we as voters have somewhat of a role in the mess. One of the three general areas on which the state bases its inspection is capacity or the physical limitations of the jail.

The state found Kent’s jail, for example, is sometimes overcrowded at times of high arrests, citing a lack of jail cells sufficient to hold the inmate population. There is no way to fix that besides building another facility.

That is exactly what city council proposed last fall when it offered to raise the income tax by a quarter-percent, from 2 to 2.25 percent. But voters rejected the ballot issue last November by nearly 1,000 votes.

The roughly $1.3 million per year would have helped begin the building process.

Now, city council has placed the same tax hike — 0.25 percent — back on the ballot for this November. Officials slightly revised it, they say, after hearing the concerns of those who voted it down. Voters seemed mostly concerned about a lack of information about how their money would be used.

But this inspection should erase any doubt that the time is now to give the police department an extra boost, to relieve them of embarrassingly low marks. Yes, many, if not most, of the violations are well within the jail’s control and should be addressed, such as the lack of suicide prevention training and adequate health care for inmates with medical issues.

But the jail has repeatedly failed state inspection, and city officials all agree something needs to be done.

One of the few solutions is a new, updated facility. If the only way to get it is to shell out a little more money for the good of everyone, so be it.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose names are listed above.