Montgomery County creates jail oversight committee

The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners officially established an committee that is expected to study and provide recommendations for improving conditions and policies at the county jail.

The co-chairs and members of the committee were selected because they have the experience and skill sets needed to figure out how to make the jail safer for inmates and staff, County Commissioner Dan Foley said.

“We put a significant amount of work to forming this jail committee,” he said.

Bishop Richard Cox, a vocal critic of the jail, says the committee is pro-law enforcement and will not be impartial.

“It’s too top-heavy with law enforcement,” Cox said. “It allows police to police themselves.”

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On Thursday, Montgomery County commissioners approved a resolution that establishes an independent jail review committee and appoints its 10 members.

The committee will be tasked with reviewing investments needed to provide a safe environment at the jail, promote positive prisoner behavior and ensure humane treatment of incarcerated individuals, according to the resolution.

Members will serve two-year terms and will be expected to provide recommendations about jail policies, practices and facility investments to make it more secure and safe, Foley said.

The committee consists of current and past members of law enforcement, civil rights and religious groups, the judiciary, academia and health care.

The committee’s co-chairs are retired Rabbi Bernard Barsky with Beth Abraham Synagogue, and Dr. Gary LeRoy, an associate dean for Student Affairs and Admissions at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine.

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One of the committee’s first priorities will be to get a “baseline” study of the jail to identify its strengths, weaknesses and gaps, Foley said.

Using that information, the committee will make recommendations for improvements that could possibly include things such as brick-and-mortar fixes, policy changes and new post-release programming, Foley said.

Speaking at Thursday’s meeting, Cox said he was disappointed with the makeup of the committee, which includes a judge, a retired deputy and police chief and a city attorney.

“You don’t have any community representation,” said Cox, who is an activist with Justice for Racial Equality & Brotherhood.

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