Sheriff mulling expanded prison options

G. Sam Piatt

May 21, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini says he is exploring the idea of opening the former Juvenile Detention Center, currently occupied by The Counseling Center’s Second Chance program.

The issue of limited jail space in the region was further addressed with the recent tour of the former Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility (ORV) in Franklin Furnace by regional leaders. During the tour, officials from Scioto, Lawrence and Jackson Counties gathered to brainstorm about the possibility of reopening the 36-acre, 10-building complex.

One of the issues that sparked the idea of a regional jail was the need Lawrence County has for a new county jail. Lawrence County is under orders of the state to find new jail facilities. The ORV was initially considered a potential solution, even though it is located in Scioto County.

Donini has voiced his concern about the opening of a regional jail stating it would hurt Scioto County financially.

“I fully understand the issues that Lawrence County is having. I realize they have some serious issues and need to come up with a resolution. The only thing is, it sounds like to fix their problems would cause us problems. I hate the thought we are doing OK on their dime,” Donini said. “I’m still not receptive of that idea (regional jail) because of that and in addition, I don’t think anyone can afford to run that place (ORV).”

He acknowledged ORV is a nice facility and said he would have loved to have had it, prior to the building of the current Scioto County Jail.

When asked if the solution to Lawrence County’s issues is going to come from Scioto County Donini said, “I’m working on a solution right now. I’ve spoken to the board of county commissioners prior to the tour last week about an idea. We all know what the situation is, we’re sorry for Lawrence County. Like I told the board of commissioners, we need to try to resolve Lawrence County’s issues for them. This way their problems will not turn into our problems.”

Donini said he has been in conversations with Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless about different possibilities.

“I’ve had an idea for a couple of years of using the former juvenile detention facility. It would be a prime location to take an additional 30-40 inmates from Lawrence County to help resolve their issue,” Donini said. “The only problem is, it’s currently occupied by The Counseling Center, who’s making no revenue at all for the county.”

Donini said he is in the process of constructing a budget for the opening of the facility.

“I’m going to work on doing a budget and trying to figure what kind of revenue we can bring in and what the operating costs would be, I know it would be no where near the cost of operating the facility in Franklin Furnace,” Donini said. “If we can’t make it profitable, I’m not going to ask that The Counseling Center be asked to move on. If I find out that it is profitable, and I anticipate it will be profitable or at least a break even with the current revenue we’re making, this would also lead to additional jobs.”

He said officials from the state have come to look at the facility for the possibility of a jail. He said that was about the time The Counseling Center took it over.

Mike Crabtree, Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners said the idea of opening the former juvenile detention center has been talked about for years.

“At this point I do not see anything happening until the details could be worked out to make that change (between the Sheriff’s office and The Counseling Center),” Crabtree said.

When told of the idea by the Daily Times, Compass Community Health Executive Director Ed Hughes said, “I had not heard that. The county commissioners are in charge of that facility so we would have to talk to them (commissioners) to see what kind of plans they have for that.”

The Counseling Center’s Second Chance program currently housed in the facility has been successful according to Hughes. He attributed part of that success to the facility.

“Reducing the number of people who are sentenced to jail, to be able to divert them into a treatment setting is good for the community and good for the jail,” Hughes said. “This location has made a lot of things possible thanks to the partnership between us and the county commissioners.”

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.