EATON — When it was built roughly two decades ago, critics felt the 70-bed Preble County Jail was too big. But then, as now, officials could not predict the future inmate population. And, in 2016, Preble County Sheriff Michael Simpson found himself in a situation where the 10 beds assigned for female inmates simply were not enough some days.
So, for several months last year, the Preble County Jail housed its overflow female inmate population in the Mercer County Jail, at a cost of about $70 per day, per inmate. In December, they also sent several male inmates.
Because of the current trend, the Preble County Commissioners requested a work session with Simpson to go over options as they move into 2017.
They met on Monday, Jan. 9 in the Commissioners’ Office.
“We booked 23 females into the jail in December which is four more than November,” Simpson said. “Our lowest population was on the 28th with five females. Our highest occurred on the 9th with 15 females. This is in-house. In December, we had seven females in Mercer….We still have seven inmates there (on Jan. 9).”
Simpson went on to explain that the jail had seen an increase of 24 percent in the number of female inmates booked between 2015 and 2016. In 2015, 284 females were incarcerated. That number rose to 351 in 2016.
The male population is also growing, just not as rapidly. In 2015, the male population was 1,010. It rose 9.5 percent, in 2016, to 1,105 inmates.
Commissioners are considering funding a study to determine what is the most cost effective method of dealing with the overflow of inmates. A study will allow them to compare the current process of out-of-county housing, building an addition onto the jail — or any other options industry insiders may know.
A snapshot of the county jail population on the afternoon of Jan. 24 revealed that out of the 69 inmates housed in-county, 11 were females.