Saturday, February 1, 2003

Tristate A.M. Report



Compiled from staff and wire reports

County to settle suit over inmate fees

Hamilton County officials agreed Friday to settle a lawsuit over the county's practice of charging prisoners a fee to stay in its jails.


[photo] Five-year-old Ellie Fangman and her mother, Angela Broomall, of Fort Thomas, get a taste of spring as they look at blooming flowers at The Wedding Show display Friday afternoon at the Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park. The Wedding Show runs through Feb. 23. The conservatory is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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In a settlement proposal filed in U.S. District Court, the county agreed to refund all money seized from inmates and promised to spend an additional $150,000 over the next three years on an educational program for inmates.

The county's "pay-to-stay" program, which began in 1998, required incoming prisoners to pay a fee to help cover the cost of their incarceration.

A former inmate sued the county over the practice two years ago, claiming he never got back the $30 confiscated at the jail even though it turned out that his arrest was a mistake.

His lawyer, Robert Newman, filed a class action lawsuit claiming the county's policy was unconstitutional because it required payment before the inmates were proven guilty of a crime.

U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel issued a preliminary finding in 2001 that warned the county its policy might violate the rights of inmates.

As part of the settlement, the county agreed to pay back all of the money it seized, an amount that could exceed $1 million.

City to take exclusion to U.S. Supreme Court

Cincinnati will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a ruling that struck down the city's drug exclusion zone ordinance as unconstitutional.

The 1996 law declared Over-the-Rhine off limits to anyone convicted of a drug offense. It was an attempt to slow what has been described as "open-air drug dealing" in Cincinnati's poorest neighborhood.

A panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 last September that the zone infringes on freedom of association and unfairly limits a person's right to move freely in a public area. Last month, the court refused to reconsider that decision.

City Manager Valerie Lemmie reported to City Council this week that she has instructed Solicitor J. Rita McNeil to proceed with seeking a Supreme Court review, since different appeals courts have ruled differently on similar ordinances. The Supreme Court does not have to accept the case, however.

It will cost the city $3,000 to prepare the appeal, McNeil said.

Guilty plea in assault on wife with MS

LEBANON - A 50-year-old Mason man pleaded guilty Friday to a felony assault charge for beating his wife, who has multiple sclerosis.

Thomas Spangler faces up to 18 months in prison when he returns to Warren County Common Pleas Court in about one month for sentencing. However, Judge Neal Bronson indicated that Mr. Spangler is likely to spend less time in the county jail if a presentence investigation shows that he doesn't have a serious criminal background.

Mr. Spangler, who remains free on bond, was arrested July 28 after Karen Spangler's relatives rescued her from the couple's home and reported to police that she had been beaten and neglected by the husband who was supposed to be her caretaker.

A police report said that Mrs. Spangler, who now lives with a brother, had black eyes and bruises on her face.

Man arrested in robbery at Graeter's

A 34-year-old West Price Hill man was arrested Friday for aggravated robbery in connection with the Jan. 28 stickup at a Graeter's Ice Cream store in Green Township.

Gregory Gibson, of East Tower Drive, was identified as a suspect in the crime when Hamilton County sheriff's investigators matched a fingerprint taken from the robbery scene to his. Gibson's description matched a suspect in two other aggravated robberies - the Dec. 18 holdup of a Graeter's Ice Cream store on Ferguson Road, and the Jan. 2 robbery of the Glenway Carry-out store on Glenway Avenue.

In each case, a lineup was shown to clerks in those stores who were robbed, and they picked Gibson out of the lineup, according to police reports.

Townships raise a flag of their own

HAMILTON - Many Butler County township officials gathered in front of the Government Services Center Thursday morning as the county commissioners raised the official Ohio townships' flag in honor of the state's annual Township Day today.

The ceremony was attended by Reps. Gary Cates, Greg Jolivette and Shawn Webster, all Republicans of Butler County.

Township officials thanked the commissioners for their support over the years. The commissioners spoke about the importance of the county and the townships continuing to work together to deliver services and attract businesses.




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