September 16, 2014

Elyria
Partly sunny
63°F
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It’s still packed, but jail gets state’s OK

ELYRIA — The county jail passed its annual state inspection Thursday, despite the fact that the facility continues to be overcrowded.
The overcrowding was the only problem raised by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction inspector who toured the jail Thursday, Sgt. Bob Tomusko said.
The jail is supposed to house a maximum of 422 inmates under state guidelines and on Thursday had 453 prisoners, well below what jail officials had expected to contend with this summer. Last August, the jail set a record of 554 inmates.
“Our population hasn’t really skyrocketed yet,” Tomusko said.
The inspector reviewed jail training and medical procedures, population numbers and toured the facility, talking to inmates, most of whom complained that they were being kept too long, Tomusko said.
One thing the inmates didn’t complain about was the food, which a county grand jury that toured the jail earlier this week described as “barely edible.”
Tomusko said each meal costs $1.06, but complaints about the food are uncommon.
“I know it’s not Red Lobster, but if they come from another facility, they tell us how much better our food is,” he said.
Jail officials have been seeking solutions to the crowding, including an early release program that officials plan to use if the inmate population gets as high as last year. Also under consideration is bringing in modular units to expand the space in the jail as a temporary fix.
The county also is funding a study to determine how the jail can fix the crowding in the long term. The first phase of the study has been completed and the second phase, which could offer solutions — including the possibility of building a new jail — is expected to begin soon.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.