Tuesday, April 24, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco sheriff, judge trade ideas to address jail overcrowding

There was a milestone at the Pasco County jail on Tuesday night. With 1,550 inmates, the facility had its highest head count ever. That's 374 more prisoners than the number of permanent beds on the first two floors of the facility.

"Is it a crisis? Yes," said Maj. Ed Beckman, "when you have 1,550 prisoners backed in an area designed to hold 1,200, there are problems."

That's why Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco wants funding to staff the now-vacant third floor of the jail, which has another 256 beds. He has been meeting individually with Pasco County commissioners to make his case, and plans to present a budget proposal May 31 seeking the funding.

Nocco also says the only way to keep up with the rising jail population is to build an annex. He said the county should make that a higher priority than building a new courthouse on the jail property in Land O'Lakes.

However, Circuit Judge W. Lowell Bray, who recently wrote a letter to Nocco offering to help address the overcrowding issue, said money allocated for the courthouse was collected specifically for that purpose and can't be used for anything else.

For years, the county has been charging a court improvement fee on each traffic ticket, and now there's about $7 million in that account. Bray said the county could sell bonds to raise as much as $20 million toward a new courthouse.

"We've been kind of hoarding that money," he said, "and all of it is specifically for the purpose of improvement of the courts."

What that means, according to County Administrator John Gallagher, is Nocco will have to go to the taxpayers if he wants to build more jail space.

"It's difficult for me to try to address the expansion without knowing specifically what they want and what they believe it'll cost," Gallagher said. "He needs to see if the citizens are willing to pay extra taxes to support it."

In his letter to Nocco, Bray offered some suggestions. He said the Sheriff's Office could re-establish a supervised pre-trial release program or take advantage of an under-utilized program called Operation Payback, in which defendants are sentenced to two days a week at a county work site instead of serving time in jail. The sheriff's website says the payback program "saves a conservative estimate of $64 each day" over the cost of housing an inmate at the jail.

Nocco wrote a response letter saying the pre-trial supervision project was eliminated because it was too large to manage with so few deputies. But he seemed open to Operation Payback: "If the courts feel that more people should be in the program, then offenders should be sentenced accordingly."

Without some kind of relief, Nocco fears, the county may have to start sending inmates to jails in other counties, which would balloon costs.

Bray said there have been instances in his 30-year career where the courts have helped alleviate jail crowding issues. For example, they could release certain prisoners under certain circumstances – cutting off the last five days of a sentence or allowing certain criminals to post bail.

"I don't run a jail so I don't know what his situation is. They have not come to us and asked for help," he said. "In the past, they've come to us and asked for help and we've entered special orders."

Comments
Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

As former teammates with the Rays and throughout baseball share thoughts and prayers, RHP Danny Farquhar is "progressing well" in a Chicago hospital after suffering a hemorrhage caused by a brain aneurysm on Friday.The White Sox on Monday released th...
Updated: 3 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 23

Monday’s scoreboardBaseballCanterbury 10, Citrus Park Christian 0Northeast 12, Countryside 5
Updated: 4 hours ago
Man faces first-degree murder charge in 2017 death of woman

Man faces first-degree murder charge in 2017 death of woman

TAMPA — A 68-year-old man was arrested Monday on a first-degree murder charge, according to Tampa police.Officers took James Leon Jackson into custody at 2712 W Nassau St. in west Tampa at about 1 p.m. A warrant for his arrest had been issued Friday....
Updated: 4 hours ago
A new museum will honor America’s lynching victims, including those killed in Tampa Bay

A new museum will honor America’s lynching victims, including those killed in Tampa Bay

In May 1914, a Hernando County grand jury decided not to indict John Davis, a black man accused of attempting to assault a white woman in a hotel. But days after he was released from the Citrus County jail, Davis’s body was found beaten with a ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

ST. PETERSBURG — Absolutely, Alex Cobb was saying over the phone, it's going to be weird pitching Tuesday against the Rays.The organization that he owes so much for rearing him since high school, standing by him through assorted injuries, enabl...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Mon., April 23, midday:40 874 5140e_SRit69262Mon., April 23, evening:76 974 2849e_SRit78236Fantasy 5Mon., April...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Waffle House slaying suspect arrested; veteran receives world’s most extensive penis transplant; more in U.S. news

Waffle House slaying suspect arrested; veteran receives world’s most extensive penis transplant; more in U.S. news

TennesseeWaffle House slaying suspect arrestedThe mentally unstable white gunman suspected of killing four people and wounding more at a diverse Nashville Waffle House was arrested near his apartment Monday, authorities said. Police and federal agent...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Armenia’s leader quits amid protests; van driver kills 10 in Toronto; more in world news

Armenia’s leader quits amid protests; van driver kills 10 in Toronto; more in world news

ArmeniaLeader quits: ‘I was wrong’Ten days of demonstrations forced the resignation Monday of the man who has led post-Soviet Armenia since 2008. The unexpected resignation prompted the jubilation of tens of thousands in capital Yerevan’s Republic Sq...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Deputies find parents who fled with newborn; 1-month-old is safe

Deputies find parents who fled with newborn; 1-month-old is safe

TAMPA — The 1-month-old infant reported missing Monday was found hours later about 300 miles north in Quincy, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Sage Cooper was reported to be unharmed, officials said, and Gadsden County sheriff’s ...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Saudi-led airstrike at Yemen wedding killed at least 20

SANAA, Yemen — An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a wedding party in northern Yemen, killing at least 20 people including the bride, health officials said Monday, as harrowing images emerged on social media of the deadly bombing, the third t...
Updated: 6 hours ago