Council To Hear Official Explanation

Posted: March 16, 1990

A City Council subcommittee will hear testimony today on the causes of inefficiency, delays and prison crowding within the city's criminal justice system.

The hearing will be held on a resolution introduced last month by Councilman James Tayoun to allow the Legislative Oversight Committee to investigate the criminal justice system.

"We want a report card to the people about what the administration and we are doing (about the court system)," Tayoun said.

District Attorney Ronald Castille, Mayor Goode's Council liaison Ernest Barefield, and Common Pleas Court President Judge Edward Bradley are expected to testify during the hearing, Tayoun said.

"The reason we're having the hearing is to point out the fact that the situation has gotten extremely bad," Tayoun said.

Tayoun said testimony might continue Monday, although the hearing would probably begin and end today.

"It could go on more than one day, depending on the kind of information we're getting," he said.

Earlier this month, Mayor Goode announced he had ordered a "comprehensive, systemwide inventory" of the "structures and practices" of the criminal justice system to identify "where improvement is needed."

The review is scheduled to be completed in early April, Barefield, special counsel for the mayor on policy and legislative affairs, has said.

Tayoun said the oversight committee will hear testimony today about, among other subjects, solutions to the burgeoning prison population, which was 5,147 as of March 7, even though a court-mandated population cap is 3,840.

Tayoun said the committee would investigate the city's prison system, including how many cells are usable, and discuss methods of improving the system.

The city's criminal justice system has come under fire recently for staggering inefficiency, delays and an exploding prison population. In the county prison population alone, 75 percent are awaiting trial and have not been convicted or sentenced, officials have said.

The city is under a court order by U.S. District Judge Norma Shapiro to build a new 440-cell facility by December 1990, although the city has asked for an eight-month delay.

Shapiro's order grew out of the city's inability to meet the terms of a consent decree agreed to by the city, mandating that the prison population be reduced.

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