Erie County Sheriff Terry Lyons has begun sending inmates from his overcrowded jail to Ottawa County and soon will be shipping them to Crawford County.
Erie County's commissioners recently agreed to give the sheriff $100,000 for the rest of 2007 to ease overcrowding in the local jail by letting him pay other counties to house local inmates.
Last week, Erie County's commissioners approved a contract with Ottawa County, paying $42.50 a day per inmate to house inmates there, and setting aside $50,000 to foot the bill.
On Thursday, commissioners approved a similar contract with Crawford County, agreeing to pay $45 a day per inmate to house inmates in Bucyrus and setting aside the other $50,000.
Erie County began sending inmates to Ottawa County on Tuesday, said Bob Robles, assistant administrator for the Erie County Jail.
Inmates will be on their way down Ohio 4 to Crawford County soon. The only thing local officials were waiting for was approval of the contract, Robles said.
On Thursday, the jail had 126 inmates in custody, including 112 inmates housed at the Erie County Jail, which has an official capacity of 106 and resorted to having inmates sleep on the floor.
The jail also had five inmates housed in the Ottawa County Jail and a few in a psychiatric ward in Toledo, Robles said.
Robles said the inmates held in Port Clinton and those who will be shipped to Bucyrus are inmates serving sentences, rather than inmates awaiting trial and local court dates.
"If it looks like they are going to be with us for awhile, those are the first to go," Robles said. "We're not going to send someone who is going to be back and forth in court."
Whether the sheriff will receive any money in 2008 to house inmates outside the county hasn't been determined yet. The $100,000 given to Lyons this year does not guarantee funds will be available next year, said County Administrator Mike Bixler. Lyons has asked for $500,000 to house inmates outside the county next year.