“We’ve had to release inmates based upon that consent decree daily. We don’t have the space. The other facility is not built for hardcore inmates,” Fischer said.
The downtown jail isn’t the only aging law enforcement facility, he said. The sheriff’s office building was constructed in 1910.
On average, Greene County processes about 350 people a month at the jail, according to Jail Administrator Kirk Keller. Annually the number of people who are housed at the jail for periods of time can be as high as 5,500, he said.
Last year an inmate was injured while trying to escape, Fischer said.
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“Jail construction would allow for different ways to watch the inmates,” he said. “Are we getting enough bang for our buck on the number of people we have to hire in the current facility versus what if we had one super facility that was built more to handle what we’re watching?”
Discussions so far have focused in part on reducing recidivism and keeping people out of the facility.
Fischer said he supports the idea of creating a “very good re-entry program” or expanding the county’s current Greenleaf program, an alternative to jail judges can use to sentence people with low-level convictions.
Potential costs of building a new jail haven’t been established.
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In neighboring Warren County, an architectural firm has been hired by county commissioners to work on designing a new jail. The estimated $50 million project could be completed by 2021, depending on whether the commissioners opt to build new on the outskirts of the city or expand the current facility in Lebanon.