PDT Staff Writer
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of five articles addressing different aspects of the Scioto County Jail, the jailing situation around the region and how those aspects have impacted the local criminal justice system.
On a recent Monday morning, Scioto County Jail Administrator Captain John Murphy arrived at his job to find 243 inmates in his 190-bed facility. To make matters worse, that following Friday, the jail was going to be inspected. Murphy had to be creative. He had to create space, which included opening classrooms and other areas of the facility to make room for the overflow.
More than 240 inmates at the jail this is nowhere near a normal occurrence.
“We usually hit around 200-210. We probably hold that during spring and summer months, but not 243,” Murphy said.
He said it does occur from time to time. Officially, the Scioto County Jail capacity calls for 124 adult males, 38 adult females and 28 special housing beds.
The inspection team from the Bureau of Adult Detention (BAD), arrived that Friday, and checked the bureau’s minimum jail standards for that type of facility (full service facility). Murphy was already aware of some of the things the jail would get “gigged” on.
“Right now I know I’m going to get gigged on training,” Murphy said. “First of all I want to say probably for the first time I know of since (Marty V. Donini) has been Sheriff, every employee in our jail currently has had the Full Service Jail Training, which is 148 hours. My last five officers just took the test and passed that test the week of the jail inspection. But in that, there is a standard that every officer has to have 24 hours of additional training per year.”
Donini clarified the requirements from the Bureau.
“What you have to remember, though, on BAD standards, it’s a recommendation,” Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini said. “One of the standards recommends that we have 24 hours of additional training. There’s a state law that says all officers working within a correctional facility must have the basic certification as a corrections officer within one year of their appointment. The others aren’t necessarily mandates or minimum standards. But, no, we haven’t complied fully with that portion of it.”
What element is the recent overcrowding going to play in the review?
“That plays into the fact of the square footage,” Murphy said. “The way a jail is designed depends on the standard that every inmate is entitled to so many square feet of space. Every housing area is supposed to be so many square feet. So when you run into overcrowding issues, that infringes on that square footing per inmate.”
According to Gregory J. Dann, State Jail Inspector for the BAD, the inspection was restricted to assessing compliance with a group of 61 standards selected from the Minimum Standards for Jails in Ohio promulgated by the Bureau of Adult Detention.
“The group of standards being inspected focused on reception, classification, security, housing, sanitation and environmental conditions, medical, food service, recreation, prisoner disciplination, administrative segregation, staffing and staff training,” Dann said. “Please note that this inspection does not reflect a comprehensive evaluation of the overall jail condition.”
Dann said the inspection consisted of him receiving and/or reviewing requested documentation and/or materials, touring selected areas of the jail, and having a brief interview with Captain David Hall.
That weekend prior to the inspection was what might best be described as a perfect storm. Pike County, which has 30 beds reserved at the Scioto County Jail, sent 40 prisoners. In addition to the 30-bed contract with Pike County, Scioto County has a 10-bed contract with Lawrence County.
“It was a combination of things that built up,” Murphy said. “Probably two to three weeks prior to that there was a MAPS detail with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. You get all of these people on stops, warrants. There’s so many warrants in this county, so it fluctuates.”
MAPS is a multi-agency police exercise.
“And there was a grand jury returning indictments on people who are currently in jail, with them bound over, just sitting on dead time,” Donini said.
Murphy also attributes the scenario to the increased efficiency of the various agencies that deal with law enforcement.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of crime out there, but you have the law enforcement officers out there doing their job; you have the probation officers out there doing their job; You have the judges doing their job; and the prosecutors also doing their job,” Murphy said. “There is just a combination of things. You’ve got (Ohio) House Bill 186, where you don’t send people straight to prison any longer. That falls back on the counties. When you have people that would normally have been going to prison, still here, you’re sitting here stalled out. That’s what it comes down to. We’re taking the burden of the state, and they are pushing it all back on county governments now.”
Donini said the changes have increased the burden on the jail.
“Where a couple of years ago a judge would be sentencing a certain drug offender to prison, now they can’t,” Donini said. “But the judge still wants to put sting in the sentencing, therefore he puts them in the county jail, and they could sit in the county jail easily for six months, where they normally went to prison.”
Donini talked about the cost of housing an inmate for a day in the county jail.
“When we opened up the facility probably in 2006, Bill Shaw was working with the County Commissioners, and we were getting ready to open this place up and start billing inmates, and start billing out of county, and I gave all of my information to Bill Shaw, and we were getting ready to start invoicing our inmates. And he came up with a $25 a day per diem for our local inmates, which really sounds weird, because I’m only charging them $20,” Donini said. “So, why are we charging $48 for Lawrence County? I don’t know.”
Donini was asked about the costs of housing immates in the jail.
He said his total cost per day is $4,979.11. That figure is based on the total expenditures for the year - $1,817,376.63, divided by 365 days. The cost to house a single inmate is $25.91 per day, based on the total cost per day, divided by the average daily 2012 population of 192.16
Donini said the way the jail is constructed, it would be possible to expand it and add another 60-bed unit.
“When the architect came up with the design for this facility, they also came up with an addition in the event we wanted to expand in the future,” Donini said. “The blue prints are already drawn up for it. But you would have to re-bid it to see what it would actually cost to build it at today’s cost.”
Next Sunday, Daily Times reporter Wayne Allen looks at the breakdown of the jail population based on counties contracted for beds. He will also examine why and when the city of Portsmouth stopped paying for prisoners they place in the jail, and how much that costs the county every year.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.