GALLIPOLIS — Gallia Commissioners and the Gallia Sheriff’s Office met Thursday to discuss ongoing talks with Monroe County for the addition of potential bed space for inmates in Gallia custody housed out of county.
“We wanted to come back today to talk about the Monroe County Jail contract and the possibility of amending that contract to increase it and get us a few more beds,” said Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin.
Sheriff’s office representatives said Monroe County currently had the ability to expand and to reallocate beds to Gallia up to a total number of 40 beds. Gallia currently has contracted 25 beds with the facility. Gallia’s current arrangement, according to the meeting, said that the county pays $50 a day for an inmate bed. For anything above 25 inmates, the rate would potentially go to $55 a day until the end of the year. Discussion said that if the county continued utilizing Monroe County correctional facilities after the initial year anniversary, the rate would jump to $55 a day per inmate housed for all inmates.
Last month, the county reportedly housed over 25 inmates at the facility. When the county exceeds 25 inmates, currently the county pays $65 an inmate a day. Should the county governments amend the contract, any inmates housed over the additional 25 inmate mark would potentially cost $55 a day per inmate bed as part of the new agreement to the end of the year.
The sheriff’s office recommended an additional seven beds over 25, instead of the 15 proposed, due to concerns with cost.
Commissioners said the sheriff’s office should continue its discussion with Monroe County.
“I was in a meeting at the governor’s residence and this was being discussed and there was a person who relayed a story about how they had taken one particular prisoner and spent all night trying to get them into a facility, and when they got them there, they refused them and I thought that sounded familiar,” said Commissioner David Smith of an inmate situation unrelated to Gallia County.
“We have actually had facilities accept our inmates orally and we’ve driven three hours to drop them off only to get there and be refused because another jurisdiction has eaten up those beds,” said Champlin to a reporter. “We’d have to either turn around and come back here or sit idle and find another facility that we can commute to.”
Discussion further revealed that if an inmate became considered a “problem” at another facility, they could potentially be refused at an out-of-county facility outright or returned from a facility after being housed there and back to Gallia.
The additional beds discussed, said the sheriff’s office, was an attempt to regulate its crowded inmate population. The sheriff’s office said that it attempts to disperse problematic inmates in an attempt to avoid “hurting themselves or other inmates.”
“(If they come back here), we’ve only got so many square feet to do that in,” said Gallia Sheriff’s Office Chief of Deputies Troy Johnson.
The Gallia Jail has come under a national spotlight after a series of three escapes since August and two recent deaths. One other death was being investigated in December of last year. Recent discussion has also focused on the jail having had recurring problems meeting state corrections facility standards due to a variety of issues, some regarding sanitation and others regarding the age, layout and security of the site. The jail is reportedly around 70 years old. Area residents have expressed concern over current jail policies and reported violence among inmates.
Currently, the county has said over half of its roughly $10 million general fund is backing law enforcement, court and defense of indigent issues.
Commissioners and the Gallia Sheriff’s Office are currently in talks to build a new jail near the Gallia Courthouse along Second Avenue in Gallipolis. The county officially announced its intentions to build a jail in early 2019.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342.