Crowded jail in need of solutionPublished 12:08am Sunday, November 17, 2013
It seems as though Lawrence County is on its own in the struggle to battle overcrowding at the jail.
That fact was made apparent last week after state officials from the Bureau of Adult Detention made a surprise visit to inspect the facility.
Sheriff Jeff Lawless told the county commissioners the state officials were denying a request for a variance that would allow for more inmates to be legally housed at the facility.
As it stands, the jail is in violation of state standards in regard to space requirements for each inmate and should only be housing 16 inmates.
Right now, there are more than 80 inmates in the jail and more still being housed in Scioto County.
So what is Lawrence County to do?
Release some of the inmates back on the streets? Pay even higher costs to house inmates in jails across the entire state?
And building a new jail certainly doesn’t seem like a realistic expectation when it comes with an $8 to $13 million price tag. Even renovating the current jail comes at a cost that would cripple the county’s budget.
An idea that once appeared to be a light at the end of the tunnel — using the now defunct Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility in Franklin Furnace to house inmates — has been forgotten by state officials.
Now is the time for Lawrence County officials to push for another look at the abandoned facility.
It is clear that the county is in desperate need of an answer for the jail overcrowding issue and even more clear that the state is not going to hand out any free solutions.