Female Clark County inmates complain about bathroom access

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Female Clark County inmates restricted from bathroom use

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Women inmates housed in trailers in the basement of the Clark County Jail claim they sometimes have to wait more than an hour to use the bathroom.

It’s an issue jail administrators said they have heard complaints about in the past and are trying to work out timing for the safety of the inmates.

“I don’t care about any other stuff you do in jail, but the bathroom is a human right,” said Carmen Arnold, who recently completed 10 days in the Clark County Jail for an OVI conviction.

She reached out to the Springfield News-Sun about the issues of the bathrooms because she worries about the health and safety of other women.

“People in the trailers are using bathrooms in cups cause they have to and then you tell (deputies) that you’re going to go to the bathroom in your pants — one (female deputy) said ‘That’s OK, we have extra pants,’” Arnold said.

There are currently 48 women in the trailers, according to counts from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. There is one “bathroom trailer” that has four toilets.

State regulations for county jails and state prisons across Ohio require at least one toilet per 12 inmates.

It’s a numbers game for which units are released to go to the bathroom at a certain time, said Lt. Michael Young, who oversees the operations at the jail for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

The bathroom issues in the women’s trailers have been the most frequent complaint in his tenure.

“I didn’t think that as a jail administrator that one of my biggest issues would be on allotted restroom time,” Young said.

But it is an issue he works on each week and tries to talk to jail deputies and inmates frequently to fix the issues, he said.

To get so desperate as to have to pee in cups is unsafe for everyone, Young said.

“It creates an unsanitary environment that no one wants, they don’t want to live in that and I don’t want that either for our jail,” he said.

The source of the problem comes down to there is not enough space in the main jail for everyone, Young said, so the county is forced to use the trailers which are not ideal for a jail.

“If we had adequate space, I don’t believe this would be an issue,” Young said.

The trailer units have been in place since 2003 for the women because the main jail, which was originally built to house 174 inmates, cannot fit all the women plus the more than 150 men it averages every day.

The men housed in the main jail have access to a toilet 24/7 — one in their cell and also in the common area where they are during the day.

Adding enough space to the jail to provide 60 beds would otherwise cost between $2 million and $5 million, according to past reports from the sheriff’s office.

The Clark County Jail female population has increased by 300 percent over the past five years, according to sheriff’s office data.

With the modular units, the jail capacity is 258 inmates.