The Butler County Sheriff’s Office received $500,000 from the state but the medical pod expansion was estimated at $6.6 million when they applied for Gov. Mike DeWine’s $50 million jail funding program last summer.
The jail has four medical beds, and during the height of the pandemic infected inmates were moved to the minimum security Resolutions facility for social distancing. Sheriff’s Office Chief Anthony Dwyer told the Journal-News even before the pandemic they realized their medical facilities have been inadequate from the start when the jail was built about 20 years ago.
The majority of the jail population is “brittle” with people who are drug or alcohol addicted or both — requiring close monitoring and care during detoxification — pregnant women and those suffering from mental health issues.
Dwyer said they are still trying to find out more about the funding they received but it won’t come close building the 36-bed expansion they had hoped for.
“We’ll look at what’s available and what it would cost the county, if there is a match, a lot of times they add strings to it,” Dwyer said. “If we have to match it and the county’s willing to match $500,000 that’s $1 million, there might be something we can do that will effectively fix or patch our medical.”
The county is flush with cash after years of belt-tightening, as of the end of April they had $92.6 million in unencumbered cash in the bank, a $15 million capital reserve fund, $16 million budget stabilization fund and nearly $75 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act money.
Commissioner Don Dixon said he would be willing consider providing some funding for the medical pod.
“I’ll listen to them, I understand the need,” Dixon said adding they need to make the facility “more medically useful.”
State Sen. George Lang put the jail medical facility in the capital bill and the West Chester Twp. Republican told the Journal-News there is no matching requirement. He said he wished the earmark could have been more.
“I was hoping to get a little more for the jail for that purpose,” Lang said. “This year is the first year — and I pushed for this — that our capital budget we are not borrowing money, we are paying cash. Every other year we would bond the capital budget. As a result of not wanting to borrow any money, and I hope it’s a principle we can stick with on a go forward basis, as a result of that, that was all we could get for the jail.”