XENIA — Greene County officials considered proposed plans that would see the county’s jail and detention center reorganized and the detention center fully reopened, Thursday.
Current-state plans would see the Greene County Adult Detention Center (ADC) brought open to full capacity – it has operated at about half capacity since 2009 county budget cuts – and would see more space designated for female inmates in the two facilities.
County Sheriff Gene Fischer, Greene County Commissioners, Common Pleas Judge Michael Buckwalter and other interested parties met in a commissioners work session to talk about plans for the project, which commissioners have indicated they are interested in funding long-term.
The detention center, which has four “pods” for inmates, would have space for approximately 240 inmates at full capacity. Currently only two of the pods are open, but with additional staff and funding, the whole facility could be operational in the first months of 2016, according to an estimate by Fischer.
Fischer has previously estimated that bringing the ADC back to full operation would mean adding 10 corrections officers and a nurse, and has said that a year of those two pods running fully operational would cost about $1.3 million.
With the reopening of the space at the detention center in addition to rising numbers of female inmates, a reorganization of both facilities is likely.
“It is not as simple as just opening beds and saying, ‘Let’s put people in them,’” Greene County Sheriff’s Major Kirk Keller said at the meeting. Keller is the law enforcement office’s jail division administrator. “There’s classification structure that is probably one of the most important things we do when a person comes into our facility … We certainly don’t want a person who is susceptible to being violated or being harmed in some way, with some of our worst offenders, because they’re going to get violated or they’re going to get harmed.”
Plans introduced by the sheriff’s office Thursday would see space for 60 female inmates added to the detention center, which currently only houses males, and would reduce the number of female inmates at the county jail from the current state of 46 to 29 general population inmates. The number of female Greene Leaf inmates at the county jail would hold steady at 20 (Greene Leaf is an intensive six-month residential alcohol and drug treatment program.).
“As I’ve tracked the female [jail] population since 2009 to present, it just continues to go up,” Keller said. “Their average length of stay continues to decrease, because we’re just shooting them through. There really is no discipline, no recourse. You’re just in, and you’re out.”
Fischer recently estimated that between eight and 10 individuals are being released from county custody a day because of space limitations at the jail facilities.
“[Criminals] are coming to Greene County as their destination for criminal activity,” said Melissa Litteral, director of the Greene County Adult Probation Department, “because they now know, at least in the past – and hopefully we can change that attitude – that they can get away with what they were doing.”
Male inmate space at the county jail would be upped by nine (to 89) and at the ADC, which would move from the current state of 84 to 144 general population, with the male Greene Leaf population staying the same at the ADC.
“One of the reasons you have a jail in the first place is … if somebody commits a crime, where do they go for their punishment?” Fischer said previously. “Probation is not always the best option… If you take that threat away, then that’s going to increase crime. You have to have this. Hopefully we’ll reduce some of the crime rate and make people think twice.”
The process of reopening the ADC space is set to move forward with the hiring and training of new employees to run the additional pods in the next few months.