|December 26, 2008|
Judge focuses on jail crowding, reforms
BY RICK NEALE
A senior Florida judge soon will meet individually with
Brevard County commissioners about chronic jail
overcrowding in Sharpes.
In July, Charles Edelstein submitted a 115-page report
citing criminal-justice changes that may alleviate
cramped conditions at the 1,701-bed
Brevard County Jail Complex.
Inmates filed a federal class-action lawsuit in 1983 -- but
overcrowding remains unresolved a quarter-century later.
The jail routinely exceeds its inmate capacity: Average
monthly population was 1,802 last year, records show.
By a 4-1 vote earlier this month, the commission decided
to contract with Edelstein for up to $5,000 in jail-crowding
consulting services. He will travel to Brevard from his Miami
office and brief newly elected commissioners Andy Anderson,
Robin Fisher and Trudie Infantini.
Edelstein will earn $100 an hour, which includes travel expenses.
The contract extends through Jan. 31.
Infantini cast the sole no vote. Saying the county shelled
out more than $400,000 for outside legal counsel last year,
she wanted in-house attorneys to brief her instead.
"I don't need the author of any book to tell me what it says in the book.
You should be able to read it, and another attorney can communicate that," Infantini said.