XENIA — Greene County Commissioners addressed concerns from citizens about reopening local jail space Thursday.
“I want to ask whether the commissioners have studied this enough to know that this is the best way to spend Greene County taxpayer money,” Beavercreek resident Lynn Buffington said. She and two other citizens questioned commissioners on the topic at Thursday’s commissioners meeting.
Commissioners have previously committed to footing the bill to bring the Greene County Adult Detention Center (ADC) back to full capacity – to hold approximately 240 inmates – long-term. The center has operated at about half capacity since 2009 county budget cuts.
Currently only two of the center’s four pods are open, but with additional staff and funding, the whole facility could be operational as early as the first months of 2016. Estimates have placed the cost of running the additional two pods at about $1.3 million annually.
Commissioner Tom Koogler noted that local officials have been meeting for two years to discuss the plans for the jail space.
“We don’t want to do it, but when the judges are coming to us over and over again and saying, ‘I’m letting people out of jail that may commit a crime that could cost someone their life,’ I’m thinking … we’ve reached that point of no return, the tipping point where we have to do something,” he said.
Koogler also addressed a recent editorial written by local attorney Ellis Jacobs, which questioned the ADC re-opening.
“He attended one meeting,” Koogler said. “He heard a half hour of conversation and wrote an editorial. We’ve been working on this for two years, and we’ve been trying to find every way possible to solve the problem of our jail population without spending that $1.3 million. Trust me.
“Greene County used to be known back in the early 2000s and before that, that if you did the crime, you’re gonna do the time. It’s not like that anymore. … Somebody is going to lose their life because we were a penny wise and a pound foolish. I don’t want that on my watch.”
One attendee questioned whether alternate options for supervised release had been considered.
“We do take full advantage of house arrest, alternate types of punishment, however that just doesn’t seem to get people’s attention,” Commissioner Bob Glaser said. “The things that get people’s attention is to put them in jail. … We are working on this problem, have been working on this problem, and we’ve come up with a solution. The only solution that seems to be available that truly works is to have more jail space.”