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Budget cuts could force release of 472 inmates

Budget cuts in Hamilton County will lead to the release of 472 prisoners and the layoff of 201 employees in the Sheriff's department, according to Sheriff Simon Leis.
Speaking Tuesday afternoon on WLW radio with Bill Cunningham, Leis said the prisoners at Queensgate jail will be released on the first of the year because there will be no budget to keep the jail open.
Leis said his budget is being cut by $12 million and there will be an impact to public safety.
In addition to the jail closing, Leis said he'll need to layoff 115 corrections officers, 38 administrators and 48 sheriff's deputies.
Among the deputies, 17 will come from Anderson Township, 15 from Colerain Township and 15 more from Green Township.
If the sheriff is forced to make cuts in his department, Leis will ride out his final term in hard times. "I've never had so much difficulty as I have right now," he said.
The cuts are deep, but not everyone thinks the sheriff's department should take the hit.
Chris Finney is a board member for the anti-tax group called COAST, or Citizens Opposed to Additional Taxes. He says the cuts are long overdue and that public safety wouldn't have to suffer if the county prioritized and made cuts elsewhere.
"Court reporters, promoting new conventions, vehicle maintenance, 9 employees of the county commissioner's office; not a single one of them is being cut in this budget," said Finney.

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