Sheriff’s office investigating racial segregation claim at jail

Montgomery County Jail, 330 W. Second St., Dayton, Ohio.

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Montgomery County Jail, 330 W. Second St., Dayton, Ohio.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office says it is conducting an internal investigation into allegations that female inmates are racially segregated at the jail.

The I-Team investigated the complaint and found that more than three-quarters of the 573 stays by black female inmates in the Montgomery County Jail from Oct. 1-12 were in 14 older, smaller cells.

The smaller cells house a dozen or so people each and offer little privacy or personal space, according to those interviewed.

“You have to use the restroom in front of 10 people,” said former corrections officer Erika Woodruff, who worked at the jail for more than 14 years. “You have to eat while someone is using the restroom. Nothing is private. They had mushrooms growing out of the wall because of the condensation.” Parts of the jail date to 1965, although it’s been renovated numerous times.

Jail records from the first part of October show the majority of the white female inmates were in two larger, “dorm-style” units that hold five times the population but also have more room per inmate and include bathroom doors.

“You’re able to walk around,” Woodruff said. “The air quality is better. You have more access to the CO (corrections officer) when you’re in the dormitory style housing.”

The I-Team shared its analysis of the jail housing data with the sheriff’s office Monday and requested an interview and opportunity to see the jail housing areas. The records were obtained using the Ohio Public Records Law.

In an email Thursday, jail commander Maj. Matt Haines said he has requested an “expedited” investigation.

“The Sheriff’s Office has an open internal investigation into the allegation of improperly classifying inmates,” Haines wrote. “For that reason we are not going to comment on this issue until the investigation is complete.”

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