County gets funding for new jail

Published 5:04 pm Friday, October 29, 2021

“It’s like Christmas day,” said Lawrence County sheriff Jeff Lawless about an announcement from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office that the county will be getting $16.8 million to fund a new jail facility. “I am ecstatic.”


Over 50 applicants competed for the grants and Lawrence County walked away with over 33 percent of the total funds set aside for these type projects.

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“The Lawrence County jail issue has plagued our county for many years and finding a solution has been a top priority of our current administration,” said Commissioner DeAnna Holliday. “We have stayed the course; made informed decisions and have finally obtained success with a grant application valued at $16.8 million dollars.”

Holliday said that it was a tremendous opportunity for the county, one that she was grateful, but added that more funds will be needed for the project.

“Although the award doesn’t get us to the finish line, it’s a huge head start,” she said. “All parties involved collaborated, remained committed and successfully brought this project to fruition.”

Further details about a new jail for Lawrence County, such as total costs, location and when construction could possibly start will be discussed at the Lawrence County Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday.

The funds are part of a $50 million that is being allocated throughout the state to support local jail renovations in Senate Bill 310, which was passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed by DeWine in December 2020.

Neighboring Scioto County is getting $1.5 million to expand their facilities and Gallia County is getting $5.5 million to help with the cost of building a new jail.

“Upgrading these jails is about more than just safety, it’s also about providing an environment that can influence positive change,” said DeWine. “These jails have fallen into such disrepair because the counties simply couldn’t afford the cost to rebuild on their own. With this help from the state, the improved county jails will better meet the demands of our modern criminal justice system and better address inmates’ underlying issues that may be causing criminal behavior, such as mental health or substance use concerns.”

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s (ODRC) Bureau of Adult Detention administered the application process and selected jails based on those with the greatest need for construction and renovation work to improve conditions and operations.  The ability of each jail to serve neighboring jurisdictions was also considered.

“These capital construction and improvement projects will enhance the operations of each of these jails, providing greater service to several counties throughout Ohio,” said ODRC director Annette Chambers-Smith. “Many of these counties are part of Ohio’s Appalachian Region and overall investment in this region continues to be a priority of the DeWine-Husted Administration.”

The County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) welcomed DeWine’s announcement.

“CCAO is very grateful to Governor DeWine and the General Assembly for their support of safe and modern county jail facilities,” said CCAO president Tim Bubb. “As counties face substantial capital expenses to replace outdated and overcrowded jails, these funds offer much-needed support to counties to construct jail facilities that both protect the public and better serve those incarcerated. We greatly appreciate the state’s partnership on this important issue.”

CCAO also thanked the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association for their partnership in advocating for these funds.