Jail Dispute: Paulding County Grapples With How To Solve Inmate Headache

By Jeff Neumeyer

January 28, 2013 Updated Jan 28, 2013 at 6:56 PM EDT

PAULDING COUNTY, Ohio (www.incnow.tv) --- A story from Paulding County Ohio that will make you shake your head in amazement.

Officials spent money to create a 52-bed county jail, but for more than four years it has sat empty.

We all cringe when we hear accounts of government waste.

In this instance, the voters in that county share some of the responsibility.

The voting public there approved tax levy increases to enhance the jail and pay operational costs, but in 2008, after it was up and running for about a year and a half, they voted to cut off the funding, so now the state-of-the-art facility sits vacant.

Rather than divert money used for road patrols, the former sheriff cut a deal with Putnam County, paying officials there close to $300,000 a year to house the county's inmates.

The new sheriff Jason Landers says the makeshift arrangement eliminated up to 15 jobs in Paulding County at the local jail, created a variety of inmate transportation headaches, and is making taxpayers pay off a $20-million bond issue while getting no real benefit out of the building.

" It was a bad situation. I'd love to see the jail open back up. When, I can't tell you. Time frame, I can't tell you. We are going to work numbers with the commissioners and myself, and we're going to make the best responsible decision we can make for our constituents," Landers said.

We’re told voters shot down three follow-up levy increase requests, so it’s unlikely that a fourth request would be received more favorably.

The Paulding County Commissioners, meanwhile, indicate they are open to discussing the idea of moving some money around in the current budget, to come up with the cash needed to staff the local jail once again.

Protecting public safety and holding down other costs associated with farming out inmates to Putnam County are reasons given for re-visiting the jail staffing issue.

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