Wood County mulls jail expansion as housing costs rise - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Wood County mulls jail expansion as housing costs rise

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BOWLING GREEN, OH (WTOL) - It's an ongoing problem at the Wood County Criminal Justice Center: prisoner overcrowding.

Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn is proposing a $5.2 million solution: an expansion.

If there's no room at the center, the county ships prisoners to surrounding county jails.

For all of 2011, it cost taxpayers just over $13,000 to do that.

For only the first two months of 2012, an astonishing $27,000.

Sheriff Wasylyshyn blames the new Ohio House Bill 86, a prison reform law.

"Which is basically having fewer people go to state prison. Can be housed locally. That will significantly increase, already has, our number in the jail," said Sheriff Wasylyshyn.

Current capacity at the center is 149 beds.

Sheriff Wasylyshyn wants to add an additional 60 beds to an empty building attached to the center.

"And my concern is as we get full, other jails that we house with will also be full and then we're going to have some serious problems," said Sheriff Wasylyshyn.

In addition, Sheriff Wasylyshyn hopes to increase the size of the booking area from five holding cells to 31.

That will make it easier to perform medical evaluations for incoming prisoners.

"So what we're doing with our booking area will suffice for many years and many future additions to our facility," added Sheriff Wasylyshyn.

Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown says money for the expansion will come from the county's capital improvement fund.

But he still needs to study the proposal.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to do this in a way if we expand and have our own prisoners, perhaps have some from other counties when they're full, there may be a way to do this so it's not expensive for our taxpayers," said Mr. Brown.

There's no word yet on how soon the commissioners will act on the proposed expansion.

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