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Commission approves jail grant application

The expansion of the intake booking area of the Washington County Jail would be the first step in the planning process to accommodate the overall expansion of the jail. (Photo by Major Greg Nohe)

An application for the possible funding of a Washington County Jail improvement project was approved Thursday by the Washington County Commission.

Some $50 million for county jail projects is available through Senate Bill 310.

Buckeye Hills Regional Council announced in January that grants will be competitively awarded to counties with the greatest need based on the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s review of jail inspection data, the ability to improve safety and operations, and with a focus on shared use amongst multiple counties.

Commissioner Charlie Schilling said they met within the last month to six weeks with representatives from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and jail administration, including Major Greg Nohe.

They discussed expansion possible over the next few years.

“It’s a grant they’re applying for,” said Commissioner Jamie Booth.

Commissioner Kevin Ritter added it was just to find out if they could even get funds.

Nohe, the jail administrator, said the first phase of the renovation, if they receive funding, would be to expand holding cells in the intake section of the jail.

“We’re looking at extending down the hallway and making holding cells down that way,” he explained. “They would be built in the grass where cars park. We could put more intake into those areas.”

He said this would be a small part of a bigger picture for later expansion, which could include adding an additional 76 beds to the facility.

The jail’s intake area preliminary cost estimate is approximately $1.135 million, while the proposed 76-bed expansion would be another $10.171 million.

He said the plans are tentative, as things could change. The application deadline is June 30.

The application states the jail, built in 2004, has 124 beds. It was built and designed to house 112 men and 12 women inmates.

“Over the last five years, we have seen a dramatic increase in new incarcerations,” the project narrative reads. “The current jail design simply does not adequately accommodate that increase.”

The need for additional holding areas is due mainly to inmate classification issues, such as an inmate that suffers from a medical condition that cannot be placed in general population, or an inmate suffering from mental health or gender issues.

“The Washington County Jail has been dealing with overcrowding, classification and disciplinary issues as it relates to inmates for at least 10 years,” the narrative states.

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