How big can the new jail go? Sheriff calls on commissioners to not stall

Harrison County

7NEWS sat down with Sheriff Myers as he says they're heading into the new year with the same 8-person jail, which means more days that his officers are a taxi service for criminals.

HARRISON COUNTY, OH (WTRF) — Progress on a new Harrison County Jail is at a roadblock while commissioners debate how big to go, and after years of this plan in the making, the Sheriff says the time to get building is of the essence.

There’s a need for a jail, no doubt, but now Harrison County Commissioners and the Sheriff are doing the math on how many cells can fit in the armory.

There may be 15,900 people in the county… but crime has no boundaries.

It’s just not Harrison County people. We get people from outside the area that come in and commit crimes here. So, we have to be able to hold them until they go to court.

Sheriff Ronald J. Myers, Harrison County

Three jail feasibility studies have been conducted since 2014, each increasing in numbers. The first found 68 beds costing $9.5-Million, and in 2019, the second study said 80 beds at $10.3-M.

The most recent study in May 2020 upped it to 84 beds at a near $11-M… The sheriff says commissioners are on the fence about that last assessment.

Even though the feasibility studies say more, if a 60-bed facility is what they want to build, then let’s get it built.

Sheriff Ronald J. Myers, Harrison County

One thing’s for sure… the 8-person holding jail built in 1925 is no longer feasible.

Winding the roads of Harrison County, if you’re quite literally driving off criminals; handing them to other counties is taxing on resources, unless there’s a place to put them.

You’re going to have 20 percent more deputies on the road in the county.

Sheriff Ronald J. Myers, Harrison County

Most jails are not taking misdemeanors, and the sheriff says it’s particularly hard to find a holding cell for females.

We’ve got probably 850 misdemeanor warrants. We could probably get that nailed down by half in the next four years if we had a place to put them. The county courts get upset with us because we have no place to put these guys.

Sheriff Ronald J. Myers, Harrison County

Just recently, Commissioners approved the 911 Center to move to the armory.

But for now, the question remains; how big to go?

7NEWS reached out to Harrison County Commissioner Paul Coffland who said the new jail is not at a standstill. And that while the size is undetermined, he says that will be worked out in the design phase. With a project this size, Coffland says environmental tests are still being done and Commissioners are still on the hunt for funding.

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