More women, more inmates in both Erie, Sandusky counties
Mar 9, 2013 at 4:56 AM
The jail on Countryside Road, built in 1988, was designed to accomodate only eight women prisoners, jail administrator Maj. Tom Fligor said.
"Twenty-five years later, more females are committing more serious crimes, and the courts are keeping them in jail," he said.
It's not unusual for there to be 14, 15 or 16 female inmates at the jail, legally double bunked and taking up floor mats.
"But the issue of space and to work around in a pod, it's just to me totally unacceptable," Fligor said.
In February, Sandusky County signed an agreement with the Ashland County jail to house some of Sandusky County's female inmates at a rate of $55 per day per inmate, plus any additional medical costs for each inmate.
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According to estimates from a few years ago, it costs Sandusky County at least $65 per inmate per day to operate the jail, Fligor said.
But the contract with Ashland County is for additional inmates, outside the jail's already set budget for the year.
So far, Fligor has sent seven women to be housed in Ashland County, women who have already been sentenced and are serving out their time for anywhere from 30 to 60 days.
Because they're already sentenced, it avoids additional costs that would incur if deputies had to drive them back and forth from Ashland County to Fremont for court proceedings.
Four of the women housed in Ashland County since have finished their time. Filgor sent over three more Friday because the female inmate count was up to 14 again.
"With this weekend coming and the warm weather, the population is probably going to go up again," he said.
The option of housing female prisoners in another jail is only a temporary solution to the problem.
"I'm having almost a daily conversation with the courts trying to get people out of here," Fligor said.
The state changes in sentencing laws for low-level felonies in 2011, meant to reduce the Ohio prison population, shifted the burden back to the county to house inmates with shorter sentences.
The burden has also shifted to probation programs and electronic monitoring to handle more convicts.
"We just have those individuals who have been through the courts so many times, judges have no choice but to throw them in jail," Fligor said.
In the long run — and in reality — the jail is going to have to expand.
It can't be built up or out.
"There's nothing we could add onto this facility," Filgor said. "We're looking at building new or to occupy or renovate a current facility to accommodate misdemeanor offenders."
"We're trying to come up with ideas and ways, alternatives, that are taxpayer friendly," he said.