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Jail need is apparent

We do not recall ever having heard of a place where the local jail is as inadequate as Harrison County’s.

The facility, located in the county seat of Cadiz, can hold just eight prisoners.

Even during relatively normal times, that is insufficient for a county with slightly more than 15,000 residents.

During the past few years, with a drug abuse epidemic in progress, the jail has been woefully inadequate.

As a result, county commissioners have been forced to pay other counties in the Buckeye State to house Harrison County’s prisoners. The cost of that practice last year alone was about $170,000.

Now, commissioners hope to replace the outdated lockup with a new $15 million jail adjacent to the former SSG George Conaway U.S. Army Reserve Center. That building would also be put to use, after it is renovated and updated to serve as the sheriff’s department headquarters.

Steps are being taken to apply for a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to help fund the project, which is intended to provide 60-80 inmate beds. A facility that large should accomodate all of Harrison County’s prisoners — and perhaps allow the county to regain some of the money it has spent by housing inmates from other counties when their jails become overcrowded.

Last week, commissioners hired Great lakes Community Action Partnership to perform an environmental study on the Reserve Center property. That is required before any federal funding can be obtained.

The site evaluation process is expected to take about 120 days. If it shows no findings of concern, federal officials should approve the county’s request.

Further down the road, the county also may seek funding from the state through the General Assembly’s Capital Bill, assuming that legislation which includes money for such projects is approved. That money also should be provided.

If need is a criteria, Harrison County should be at or near the top of the list for approval.

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