by | May 2, 2024

WAYNE COUNTY, OH, May. 2, 2024 —  The State of Ohio is taking a bold step towards creating safer communities for its citizens. With a significant investment of $15 million, the Governor’s Office is helping the Wayne County Jail bolster its capacity, security, and operational capabilities, promising far-reaching benefits for public safety, law enforcement, and the communities it serves.

Before the introduction of Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Wayne County Commissioner Ron Amstutz recounted the eight-year journey that finally led to the groundbreaking ceremony. In the face of adversity and a defeated levy, the commissioners finally achieved their goal with a new jail scheduled to be operational in 2026.

“The ones that collaborate are the ones that succeed,” Lt. Governor Husted told a group that gathered for the occasion. “Clearly, that is happening here; collaboration is what we do in administrative government across the state. The citizens benefit from the partnership between state and county governments. We recognize the challenges that local communities face.”

At nearly 50 years old, the current jail desperately needs renovation. Opened in 1977 and with a maximum allowable capacity of 80 inmates, the grant will add 72,000 square feet of space, bringing bed capacity to 200 when the project is complete. This groundbreaking is a testament to Ohio’s commitment to addressing the pressing concerns of jail overcrowding, outdated infrastructure, and inadequate resources in the state’s correctional facilities.

“There are many who contributed to our arrival to this day. We have more than 25 persons on our Community Corrections Planning Board, including judges, law enforcement, community members, social services, and other community leaders,” said Wayne County Commissioner Ron Amstutz. “We set this project as one of our top priority goals several years ago. The commissioners hired Greg Strollo’s Architect firm, and now we have hired local Bogner Construction Company as the general contractor and construction manager for what is underway as we speak.”

Nothing worthwhile comes easy.

Amstutz admitted that financing the project went through twists and turns, and features were redesigned occasionally.

“We thought we needed to raise our sales tax rate, but now we can avoid that because we have substantial state and federal funding. We are very thankful for that,” he said. “Patrick Herron, our administrator, has played a vital role in this from the beginning and continues to provide invaluable leadership.”

Ohio’s need for enhanced jail facilities is undeniable, and the statistics paint a stark picture. The opioid epidemic has led to a surge in overdose deaths, and jail facilities are struggling to provide adequate medical care to inmates with addiction.

No one is more familiar with the condition of the jail than Wayne County Sheriff Travis Hutchinson. “When I first started here, I was 20 years old,” he said. “We moved into this building, and at that time, it was state-of-the-art. Seeing this new phase start with another state-of-the-art project is very humbling. The support of the state, city, county, and citizens is overwhelming.”

Those in the criminal justice system recognize that many individuals incarcerated in local jails struggle with mental health issues, substance abuse, and other challenges that hinder their ability to reintegrate into society upon release.

By providing a facility with access to counseling, therapy, and treatment services, we proactively address the root causes of recidivism and promote a safer, more rehabilitative environment within its jails, lending to a safer community.

Dan Starcher is the Public Communications Coordinator for Wayne County.

Today is July 23, 2024