The Belmont County Jail is built to handle 24 female prisoners.
But they currently have 61.
The increase in the number of women in jail is something that sheriffs all across Ohio are dealing with.
Belmont County Sheriff Dave Lucas says until now, he has been sending male prisoners to serve their time at the Jefferson County Jail, to free up cell space for the females.
But he says it has reached a breaking point, and for the sake of the safety of both the prisoners and the employees, something had to change.
So he is about to send many of his female prisoners to the Van Wert County Jail to serve their terms.
He says Belmont County will be charged $45 a day for each female prisoner, but that’s better than the $55 a day they’ve been paying Jefferson County to house the males–which is about to increase to $65 a day.
Sheriff Lucas attributes the female population rise to the drug epidemic, and he says “we’re not seeing any end to it.”
He says he’s been working with the county commissioners for the past year or so to find a solution.
Lucas says they will soon launch a study to look at the options, including building a new facility specifically for misdemeanor offenders or adding on to the existing jail.