Budget cuts lead to release of inmates at Summit County Jail

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AKRON - The doors swung open on Sunday, and 72 inmates walked out of the Summit County Jail.

They weren't being released because their sentences were over, or they had been found not guilty.

Some are still awaiting trial.

They were released because the sheriff was closing two housing units at the jail because of staffing problems due to Summit County's budget issues.

"We have some thefts; we have some probation violations; we have a few types of assaults, domestics, that type of thing," said Summit County Sheriff Steve Barry.

Barry said no one charged with higher-level felonies, such as murder or rape, was released.

But he added that the jail had received about 50 new inmates over the weekend - leading to the need to release more inmates than he had hoped.

"Let's say we have only 12 non-violent misdemeanors," Barry saaid, "and we're trying to clear 150 beds. Obviously, for us to go to the next plateau, we're going to have to do some things we don't want to do."

Some of the inmates expressed hope at their release.

Antonio Sprangling said he was behind bars because of a domestic misunderstanding.

"I look at it (his release) as a second chance," he said.

Waiting outside of the jail were some family and friends of the inmates, and also representatives of FI Community Housing.

They offer inmates warm clothing or help with finding a place to stay.

"We know first-hand what it's like not to have anybody in your corner when you need some help," said Denny Wilson, who is with the group.

The sheriff said he is not sure what's next.

"I wish I had a magic answer, but I don't," he said, "and for the safety of everyone at this facility, not only the staff but the inmates as well, we're doing what we have to do because of the the financial situation of this county."

 **Continuing coverage on this story here**