Jail Overcrowding Concerns Fairfield Co. Sheriff

By
Steffany Hiett

Dateline
Updated Wed, Apr 4, 2012 2:38 pm

A southeast Ohio prison is trying to figure out how to deal with an increase in prisoners without an increase in space to hold them.

Fairfield County jail officials say they thought they temporarily solved the problem of overcrowding when they started housing prisoners at a new jail annex in 2011.
 
But with the daily population nearing 300, Sheriff Dave Phalen says his office is once again transporting some to other counties. 
 
Phalen says officials are doing what they can to control the situation.
 
"Outside of sending prisoners to other counties, we really don't have a lot of options because we are going to attempt to add some additional beds and we're hopeful that this may be something that we may not see again," said Phalen.
 
Phalen says the overcrowding definitely plays a role in inmate escapes.
 
Last month, inmante Jeremiah Searles escaped the Fairfield County Jail Annex. 
 
Phalen says since Searles' escape, many changes have been made to insure that this could be prevented.
 
"We've limited the number of prisoners that can go out for rec. We limit that to 20. We're going to insure that we have at least two deputies each time and then thirdly we've added four additional surveillance cameras to that area. So we think those along with some additional training for our employees will hopefully prevent something like that from happening in the future
 
Phalen says costs for a new jail have ranged anywhere from $30 million to $40 million, depending on the type of jail -- money he says that the county just doesn't have.
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