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Sheriff seeks to reopen part of jail

Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said he plans to submit a proposal to county commissioners this month that would reopen part of the county jail.

The proposed plan would ask the county for additional funding to hire more corrections officers who would be used to staff part of the detention center that was closed in 2009 because of budget cuts.

“If we can get that back open, it will be a big benefit to justice system in Greene County,” said Stephen Wolaver, a Greene County Common Pleas Court judge.

Fischer said he’s still hashing out the details of the plan and evaluating how many new corrections officers would be needed and the cost per day to house an inmate.

The county corrections division has about 58 employees.

Greene County Commissioner Tom Koogler said he is waiting to see if the plan is cost effective.

“We haven’t seen the numbers yet,” he said. “It’s in the preliminary stages.”

The county’s new $44.5 million budget - approved last week - includes $11.8 million for the sheriff’s department.

There are about 120, out of 236, beds in the county jail that aren’t being used because of a lack of staff, the sheriff said.

In April 2009, the Dayton Daily News reported Fischer was running the adult detention center at half capacity when county budget cuts forced him to layoff 10 corrections officers. At the time his $13.7 million budget was reduced by almost $1 million.

“We laid off (employees),” Fischer said. “We did away with buying cars and equipment. Training suffered. We haven’t completely recovered from that 2009 crisis.”

With a limited number of beds available for inmates, local judges looked for creative ways to discipline non-violent offenders.

The total inmate population in the county jail was 3,841 in 2012, according to county data — a 4.7 percent decrease from the 4,307 inmates reported in 2011 and a 10.8 percent decrease compared to the 4,307 inmates reported in 2010, according to county data.

A county corrections report partially attributes the drop to the reopening of the Fairborn City jail in 2012.

The drop in inmates is also attributed to local courts and probation offices using diversion programs and other alternatives to incarceration.

“I think the judges have done a very good job with their sentencing,” said Ron Lewis, a Xenia prosecutor. “But no matter how creative you are, there are always people that need to be incarcerated.”

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