Butler County officials are puzzling over what to do with a county jail that was built 10 years ago by officials who then were concerned that the number of people being jailed would continue to rise unabated. But the county now has fewer inmates than previous projections, leaving a large portion of the jail unoccupied.
“We have this very large prison that costs us in lighting, heating and maintaining,” said Leslie Osche, county commissioner chairman.
Osche is on the prison board with the two other county commissioners, Kim Geyer and Kevin Boozel; Judge Timothy McCune; and prison officials including Warden Joe DeMore.
The jail, which was built in 2009, can hold 512 people and, this year, it has a $12 million budget. By state law, county jails can only hold inmates who have been sentenced to a maximum incarceration of two years.
At last count on Dec. 12, there were 256 inmates distributed in what are known as pods, enclosed areas that hold about 63 people spread across two floors.
There are a total of nine pods, six of which are being used.
“We have this unused space — and so we’re asking what can we do with it,” Osche said.
Part of the answer is to accept out-of-county inmates.
This year, out-of-county inmates are expected to add $1,051,200 to the county’s general fund, according to the county’s budget.
This is an excerpt — read the full article in Monday’s Butler Eagle to learn more about the county’s plans for the prison.