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County Jails Taking On Burden

In October, Ohio passed laws moving state prison inmates to other less-expensive community programs, but county officials say those programs aren't developed and counties are taking on the burden.

It's about taking the pressure off the state.

"What you see is you've only got so many prisons and you've got so many people committing crimes and somewhere down the line they're going to go through the system," says Washington County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Mark Warden.

In Ohio, first time offenders convicted of a lesser felony are more likely to end up in the county jail or community program, as opposed to the state prisons as before.

With the law being fairly recent, Sheriff's officials say less expensive community programs have not been developed yet, putting more inmates in the county jail.

"Our average female was 26 and male was 87 so it's a 113 average. It's a 124 bed facility," continues Chief Deputy Warden.

An increase in inmates means an increase in budget.

"You've got a number you go by and when you start and when you start seeing that increase you've got to take care of those inmates you know, feed them, put them in clothing over there, medical services," explains Chief Deputy Warden.

Officials say they were prepared for the increase and continue to prepare. Since the new law became active they've been looking at possible less-expensive community programs for inmates.

"A couple years ago we actually had a work release program and we're looking at exploring that avenue with the municipal court with Judge Welch," says Chief Deputy Warden.

The state prison population has dropped to the lowest since 2008 moving just below fifty-thousand inmates.


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