New Jail an Asset In Monroe County

Monroe County residents ought to be very pleased with their new county jail and sheriff’s department. At the same time, they will have to continue worrying about why such a large facility is needed in a county of just 14,210 residents.

An open house was held at the $15.5 million facility on Saturday. In many ways, it is a state-of-the-art corrections building.

Give county commissioners and others involved credit for smart planning. The 114-bed facility includes space for 30 female inmates. That may allow Monroe County to earn a few dollars by charging nearby counties and municipalities to house women for whom they do not have their own jail spaces.

Financing for the jail came through a $15.5 million loan provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Though that borrowed money will have to be repaid, the jail will provide substantial savings to Monroe County taxpayers.

That is because, without a jail of its own, Monroe County has had to send prisoners to Jefferson, Noble and Washington counties for some time. That costs about $60 a day, per inmate.

Not so many years ago, small counties like Monroe could get by with jails that included only a few dozen cells. What is unsettling about the size of the new corrections building is that there is no reason to believe county commissioners overbuilt it.

Why? The drug abuse epidemic, of course.

Local government officials can do little about it other than enforce the law, and that means arresting people and incarcerating them.

As we have pointed out many times, substance addiction has reached the epidemic stage in Ohio, though it is not yet the crisis facing West Virginia. Like the Mountain State, Ohio needs more help from the federal government to cope with illegal drugs.

Good for officials at the Department of Agriculture for doing their part by providing the jail loan.