Since jail space is at “a premium,” Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones said housing inmates from neighboring counties comes with a price tag.
He said Butler County is being reimbursed $75 a day for each of the 25 inmates it received Wednesday night from the overcrowded Hamilton County Jail. That $1,875-a-day in revenue, Jones said, will offset some of the cost of housing the county’s other inmates, thus saving taxpayers money, he said.
Butler County is housing an additional 25 inmates after Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil declared “a state of emergency” since the inmate population was 1,600, 400 more than capacity.
“It’s unacceptable, it’s very dangerous and it’s a safety concern for the deputies that work in the county jail,” Neil said. “It’s a safety concern for our contracted staff that works in the county jail, and it’s a safety concern for the offenders that are locked up in the county jail.”
Besides Butler County, Neil said he’s talking to other surrounding counties about temporarily transferring inmates to their jails.
Butler County has an 864-bed jail, which opened in 2002, and a facility on Second Street in Hamilton that’s maintained for overflow. Jones said the jail has room for about 25 more inmates. He said it costs about $50,000 a year to house an inmate.
Jones estimated the county jail had 400 contract prisoners from the federal court system and other counties, including Hamilton, Pike and Montgomery counties, incarcerated as of Thursday.
The jail overcrowding in Hamilton County is in “pretty tough shape,” Jones said and compared housing 25 of its prisoners to letting “a little air out of a balloon.”
Every Monday, the sheriff said, his staff monitors the number of prisoners in the jail. Sometimes, he said, prisoners charged with less serious crimes are released to “make room” for prisoners charged with felonies.
Warren County’s Jail, located in Lebanon, has a capacity of 305 inmates, and of Thursday, there were 298 prisoners incarcerated, officials said. There are 59 cells designated for females and all are taken
Officials said Warren County never houses inmates from neighboring counties.
Preble County’s jail has a capacity of 70, and as of Thursday, there were 68 inmates, said Sgt. Christopher Smith. But he said since the jail has room for only 10 females, 10 other female inmates were shipped out to jails in Mercy County in Ohio and Wayne County in Indiana, he said.
Smith said Preble County rarely accepts inmates from neighboring counties.
Middletown’s City Jail has a capacity of 56 inmates, said Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw. He said the jail typically is at capacity and the Middletown Municipal Court and the court staff do “a good job of releasing non-violent offenders,” to eliminate overcrowding issues, he said.