Wayne Community Corrections Board Approves Three-Year Plan



WOOSTER – In preparation for over a year, the Wayne County Community Corrections Board approved its three-year strategic plan on Monday, December 6.

It outlines goals for criminal justice agencies to work more closely together while prioritizing the next steps in the county jail renovation and expansion.

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“When we started reviewing the strategic plan last year, we found that each agency had its own distinct goal that they fulfilled,” said Captain James Richards of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

Richards and the board hope to bring these agencies and the Wayne County court system together to scale and deliver services more effectively.

To do this, the board interviewed and interviewed stakeholders and organized a community meeting in September. With this information, the correctional board created a three-year plan and six goals for the first year.

Richards presented the plan to the Wayne County Community Corrections Board on Monday.

Three-year plan with 2022 goals

The three-year plan is made up of six loosely linked goals. At least two co-leaders will lead each objective and will be required to complete certain tasks each year.

These co-leaders were chosen from social, legal and criminal justice agencies in Wayne County, Richards said.

The first objective is to reduce recidivism rates, expand rehabilitation services and increase alternatives to imprisonment.

To do this, the co-facilitators must identify good practices, find the space, hours and staff needed for each program. They will also monitor progress by submitting quarterly reports.

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Before the start of 2023, the co-leaders will prepare priority services with implementation dates.

The second goal is underway and is the most advanced, said Richards, co-responsible for that goal. He will continue to explore options with his co-leader, County Commissioner Ron Amstutz, to expand the Wayne County Jail and communicate those options to county residents.

Improving training, communications and coordination between the county’s public and private criminal justice agencies is the third goal.

The fourth goal will inform and assist county agencies in this strategic plan by expanding system-wide data collection, reporting and evaluation, Richards said.

While most of those goals focus on the criminal justice system and its agencies, goal five is aimed at bridging the communication gap with the public, he said.

Goal six asks the co-leaders to expand and strengthen prevention services in the county.

Wayne County Jail Expansion Explores Options

One of the main concerns of the strategic plan is the renovation and expansion of the Wayne County Jail.

The original plan would have included a renovated jail with an attached extension, but the county is considering other options almost two years after the plan was announced.

The planned expansion from 2019 would have provided more space to house a new reception and discharge center, medical and mental health beds and maximum security beds. It had a price tag of almost $ 24 million at the time, according to a Daily Record report in 2019.

Once the pandemic struck in 2020, the county and jail put the project on hold to focus on issues related to COVID-19.

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Now the county is re-examining the project and has asked Strollo Architects to consider more cost-effective alternatives that could result in a different plan.

The move came after the town of Wooster expressed concerns about the prison expansion during a public forum in September.

“Jonathan [Millea] and I have recommended eight different sites for this expansion, ”Mayor Bob Brenneman said at Monday’s board meeting. “Some belong to the county.

The architectural firm will consider different locations for the expansion and measure each cost, said Ron Amstutz, Wayne County Commissioner.

“We’ll get those numbers and decide on a path,” Amstutz said. “We are planning to have a meeting in January where we hope to talk more about this.”

This cost analysis will compare different options for the county that would allow for more beds for a larger prison population, more room for mental health and rehabilitation services and addiction treatment.

Although the cost of a new plan is unknown, Amstutz said the county should know by the end of this year or early 2022.

To pay for the renovations, the county increased land transfer taxes from 20 cents to 40 cents for every $ 100. The commissioners estimate that this tax produces $ 800,000 annually and predict that the increase would almost double that amount.

The county also approved a request for a $ 30.2 million grant from the Ohio Department for rehabilitation and corrections. in June.

Commissioners reassure downtown businesses

Downtown businesses represented by Main Street Wooster executive director Shannon Waller feared the expansion could lead to more crimes like vandalism.

Waller said most of the businesses affected by these concerns are on the outskirts of downtown Wooster and have semi-regular vandalism activity on their properties.

“I had an in-depth conversation with the Commissioners who reassured me that an expansion would not increase this activity,” she said.

County commissioners told Waller the expansion would treat individuals in jail more quickly.

“From what I understand, they will have the opportunity to bring them in and help them get off the streets,” she said.

While she enjoyed this conversation, Waller would like to see more data on how such an expansion would affect the downtown community.

“One idea is to potentially present the idea to the College of Wooster’s [Applied Methods and Research Experience], who studies socio-economic topics in the community like homelessness, ”Waller said.

Contact Bryce by email at [email protected]

On Twitter: @Bryce_Buyakie


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