Clark County deputies worry jail’s lack of hot water may cause violence

The Clark County Jail is currently without a full supply of hot water due to a faulty boiler, which has the sheriff’s office concerned about safety at the same time the inmate population is up.

One of the two boilers is out of service, Chief Deputy Travis Russell said in an email to county administrators obtained by the Springfield News-Sun.

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That “translates into limited amount of lukewarm water for 234 inmates” that decreases quickly throughout the day, Russell says in the email dated Thursday, March 15. It currently affects only the male inmates.

The county is currently looking at alternative ways to provide hot water to inmates, county administrators said, such as bringing in a mobile boiler to hook up to the system.

Clark County Sheriff Deb Burchett directed questions to the Clark County commissioners.

The jail is at least 30 years old. A replacement part will have to be custom-made due to its age, Clark County Commissioner Rick Lohnes said. It could take three to four weeks to replace it.

“The hot water heater did go down, it did break,” he said. “It’s in the process of being fixed right now.”

READ MORE: Inmates accused of trying to escape pod at Clark County Jail

The lack of hot water is disturbing, especially when coupled with the other issues at the jail, Russell says in the email.

“This creates an environment in our jail primed for violence or a riot against our staff and other inmates,” he says in the email.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office will soon send out a request for proposals for a feasibility study that would include examining the need for a new jail.

The Clark County Jail uses converted shipping containers under the building to house inmates when its population climbs. It had closed the pods last year, citing concerns about safety.

Clark County commissioners passed a resolution last month permitting the sheriff’s office to donate the pods. However, commissioners voted last week to rescind that resolution after speaking with Clark County Common Pleas Court Presiding Judge Tom Capper about an increase in inmates.

There are about 240 inmates in the Clark County Jail currently, Lohnes said. Its state-recommended capacity is 167 inmates.

“Yes, the jail is over-populated by the standards to which it was built,” he said. “But of the 241, 242 folks that were in there, the last time I read the report, about 45 were females. So, they are using the pods down below.”

There are other issues with the jail, Lohnes said, such as windows broken by inmates.

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