Jail overcrowding impacts city


FAIRBORN – The Greene County Adult Detention Center releases eight to 10 individuals per day due to lack of space. Fairborn Police Chief Terry Barlow said this has the potential to bleed into more crimes taking place on the streets.

“Fairborn is not your typical suburban city,” he said. “With the base being here, Wright State (University) in our jurisdiction, an 11,000 multipurpose facility being the (Ervin J.) Nutter Center — we have urban issues in a suburban setting. It’s an interesting place to police.”

County officials decide which law-breakers are released based on the nature of their crimes; felonious or violent offenders face a smaller chance of being released based on spacing matters, while those who commit property crimes, such as breaking into cars or sheds, are released each day, according to Barlow.

“Our ‘frequent flyers’ are the ones that we have to deal with on a daily basis, and those are the people who commit property crimes,” Barlow said. “They’re breaking into your car, detached shed or even into your house for a burglary. Most of it is to feed their habit, whether it’s a drug habit or alcoholism, and those people aren’t being put away for extended periods of time. That’s what’s worsening — the reoccurring ‘frequent flyers’ that commit the property crimes that [impact] your insurance rates and daily lives that cause a nuisance.”

County commissioners recently sent a letter to Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer expressing interest in reserving more money in the 2016 budget to reopen the previously closed pods within the Greene County Adult Detention Center.

Fairborn Municipal Court Judge Beth Root said doing so would mean a stronger adherence to the details of probation and/or house arrest.

“If a probationer knows that there aren’t any sanctions for noncompliance, it does not provide much of an incentive to comply,” she said in an email interview. “Most of the crimes committed in my jurisdiction are due to alcohol, drugs and/or mental health issues. Unfortunately our jails are now our mental health institutions and our detox centers. Having time in jail may mean the ability for a defendant to get clean and to feel like themselves again and be willing to address the issues.”

In the meantime, however, Barlow encourages Fairborn citizens to protect themselves from becoming victims of opportunity crimes.

He recommends citizens lock the doors to their vehicles and sheds, and not leave valuable items in automobiles. However, if an individual can’t avoid doing so, they should not to leave the items in plain sight.

“It’s a vicious cycle that we can never get out of,” he said. “First thing on their mind as soon as they hit that door is getting their fix to take care of that dope sickness. Usually they don’t have any money, so what are they going to do? They’re going to commit that property crime to obtain the money or trade that property to get that fix. These people aren’t being put away because of the 120 pod vacuum that’s not being filled.”

Barlow feels that individuals willing to commit property crimes are not looking to put a lot of effort into their actions. Therefore, unlocked doors and easy access to belongings is key to an opportunity crime taking place.

The jail within the City of Fairborn closed in June 2010 due to lack of funds. It reopened in June 2012 because individuals committing crimes were cited and released, leading the crime rate to spiral Barlow said.

“I’m not saying that jail is in and of itself the answer, but it at least provides the ability for an individual to get clean and/or on medication and a better chance of compliance,” Root said.

By Whitney Vickers

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Whitney Vickers can be reached by calling her directly at 937-502-4532.

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