Meetings regarding the proposed prison held to educate community members
WARSAW – Educating the public on the needs of a new Coshocton justice center is the goal of a current series of town halls.
The first was on Tuesday at River View High School and the second on Wednesday at Ridgewood High School. The final of the three will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. today at Coshocton High School.
Various local officials give presentations on the proposed project and answer questions from the audience. This is to help residents understand a half-percent sales tax increase on the fall general election ballot that would partially fund the project. The increase could last up to 25 years, but be phased out once the new structure is amortized. Main items such as outboard motor boats and motor vehicles are excluded.
The facility at the end of North Third Street, where the steel ceilings once stood, would include the administrative offices of the Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office, Dispatch, and the Coshocton County District Attorney’s Office.
The prison part will have space for 126 inmates with male and female wings and rooms to provide services such as counseling, education classes and religious services. There will be one minimum security unit for each gender, the others being medium to maximum security as needed. There would also be room on the property to add modules for an additional 100 prisoners each in the future if needed.
The total project is estimated at $ 28 million, including $ 4 million for the administrative component. The sales tax increase is expected to generate around $ 1.4 million per year and be used only to pay off loans for the construction of the prison. The administrative portion will be paid for by the recent sale of land to the old hydrological station for $ 4.3 million.
Sheriff Jim Crawford said recidivism was around 82%, which a new justice center should improve. Not only will the programming help rehabilitation, but a new prison will allow for greater incarceration. Some are not imprisoned and do not receive alternative sentences, simply because there is no place to detain them.
“This half percent sales tax proposal for the construction of the Justice Center is about the safety and security of our entire community,” Crawford said. “If the criminals know we’re going to lock them up, that’s a huge deterrent to stop them from committing crimes in our community. ”
The current justice center was built in 1972 and designed to hold 65 prisoners. However, it is only classified by the state to house 15. Overcrowding has caused many problems, especially as a factor attributing to the rise in tensions and fighting in the cell blocks. The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the need for isolation cells and better medical facilities.
“In our current prison, we will never meet the minimum standards. This places a heavy responsibility on the county, as we do not have the capacity to follow the ground rules put in place by the state,” he said. prison administrator Lt. Col. Jail. Udischas chip. “There is a misconception that a new facility would allow inmates to have more freedoms and privileges. This is simply not the case. The rules of incarceration will not change.”
Coshocton County Commissioners have long called the jail the county’s biggest liability due to its poor condition and cramps. In a 2019 prison inspection report from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, the prison was the subject of 54 offenses, 16 of which can only be fixed by a new facility.
“We want a safer community. We want a stable center of justice. We want a safer center of justice for our employees. This facility would house offenders from our community and make our community safer, ”said Commissioner Gary Fischer. “It’s an affordable solution to what has been worked on for many years at this point.”
Coshocton County District Attorney Jason Given said if there was one thing that kept him awake at night it was prison conditions and how an order from a federal judge to build a new prison could cripple financially the county. It sure would happen at some point if the county didn’t do something voluntarily. If he had to sum up in one word everything the officials talked about at town hall meetings, that would be the danger.
“The current justice center is a danger. It is a danger to our law enforcement and our prison officers. It is a danger to the finances of our county. It is a danger to the inmates who reside in inside its walls, ”said Given. “When we talk about the inmates and where they live, we are not talking about the comfort of life. We are not talking about making it more comfortable for the inmates. What we are talking about is security.”