Ohio jails get money for expansion, construction

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 12:06 PM EST
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ATHENS COUNTY, Ohio (WTAP) - : It’s often forgotten rehabilitation is as much as incarceration the goal of sending offenders to prison.

“So many people in our jails have substance abuse problems or have a mental problem, or both,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, in Athens County Monday to announce a state grant of $1.5 million to the Southeast Ohio Regional Jail.

“I rarely see people come through my court, who you would call hardened criminals,” says Fred Moses, Hocking County Municipal Judge. “They have a problem. It’s part of our job to fix that.”

The money to expand the regional jail, just outside Nelsonville, is to provide more housing for people with mental health problems, both for programming and for specialty housing.

While Warden Josh VanBibber says it’s not the only issue the regional jail is dealing with, this announcement comes about two months after a major riot at the facility.

The regional jail is currently built for 218 prisoners, but with its current population, Athens County officials said Monday it’s impossible to house one person per cell.

“If we had space where we would be able to put individuals in single cells,” said County Commissioner Charlie Adkins, “we probably could have slowed that or stopped that.”

The governor also announced $5.5 million for construction of a new jail in Gallia County. The current jail is located in the basement of the county courthouse.

The new jail will house 120 people instead of the 11 the current jail was built for in the 1960′s.

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