GALLIA COUNTY, Ohio. (WSAZ) – In October, funding of $ 5.5 million was announced for the ongoing construction of the new prison in Gallia County.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine stopped by the Gallia County Courthouse on Monday to meet with local leaders and tour the construction site.
“When you have limited capacity in a county’s jails, it just means it’s disrupting the normal pace of the criminal justice system,” DeWine said.
This project went on for years, with construction starting in the spring. The current prison is 57 years old and has a capacity of 22 beds. The average daily population is currently between 60 and 90 inmates.
“The Gallia County Jail was built at a time when you were just trying to have space for maybe someone who was drunk to sleep safely, and I think you can see that times have changed, ”said Annette Chambers-Smith, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
The grant will cover about a quarter of the total $ 20 million cost of the project.
“Frankly, they just don’t have the space they need. They must send prisoners to other counties. It means MPs are on the road when they could be back here in County Gallia and protecting people, ”DeWine said.
As of 2016, Gallia County housed 83 inmates outside the county. That number rose to around 400 in 2019.
Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin says the county spends between $ 700,000 and $ 900,000 per year on housing expenses outside the county.
“It’s purely paying for the detainees to stay. It doesn’t include the wear and tear of the vehicle, the expense of labor hours for our assistants to carry the fuel costs, so it’s a huge loss, ”said Champlin.
The new prison, which is being built behind the courthouse, will house 120 inmates with more space for treatment.
“We know that if we can offer people mental health treatment and treatment for substance use disorders, they don’t need to come to the DRC, and that’s what we want after all. ‘it happens here. We want to be able to spend more money on education than on prisons, ”Chambers-Smith said.
The large prison will also allow Gallia County to help other counties house their inmates, which will bring more income to the county.
“It’s a helping county that’s more than willing to help the counties around them now, so I know some people are like, ‘Oh my God, they’re building a pretty big jail,’ but they’re building it so they can turn around and give the help that was given to them, ”Chambers-Smith said.
The new prison will also allow MPs not to spend as much time transferring inmates and be able to spend more time patrolling the community.
The project is expected to be completed by November 2022.
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