LOGAN — A local judge hopes to open a jail in Hocking County to avoid the limited space and high cost of the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.

Hocking County Municipal Court Judge Fred Moses said he wants to open a jail within the county because of the limited space for women at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail in Nelsonville.

“We can’t put people in jail. We did not anticipate so many female inmates. The female beds are so limited,” Moses explained.

Hocking County is allotted 29 male beds and five female beds by SEORJ. If they need anymore, the county has to pay the jail for overflow beds.

Moses said the county pays between $750,000 and $1 million to the jail every year in overflow fees and other costs.

The jail is going to need municipal bonds from cities in the county to repair problems with its roof and generator, Moses noted.

Hocking County Commissioner Sandra Ogle agreed with him, saying that the money should stay in the county.

“If we are going to put money into a jail, it might as well be a jail that we own,” Ogle said.

On a daily basis, Moses said he is unable to send someone to SEORJ because of limited space. He added that Ohio House Bill 86, which was approved in 2011, changed the laws that determine which inmates go to prison and which go to jails. The change is one reason for the limited space at SEORJ, he noted.

Moses said the county pays between $750,000 and $1 million to the jail every year in overflow fees and other costs.

Estimated revenue paid to the jail from Hocking County for 2013 is $657,730. That figure doesn't include overflow costs.

“(A county jail) would be a great asset because it could house men and women,” Ogle said.

Moses said he usually cannot keep someone in jail on bond, which can lead to other problems.

“When somebody is using drugs or going to harm themselves, it is a question of if they are going to survive through the night,” he said.

Moses said Pickaway and Fairfield counties have county jails and make a profit from them. Moses said he has toured Pickaway County Sheriff Robert Radcliff’s jail, but is unsure if he would use the jail as a model for one in Hocking County.

Radcliff could not be reached for comment.

The Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office Jail is currently housing 127 inmates, including 98 men and 29 women.

If a county jail were to open, the funding would come from the county commissioners, Ogle noted, adding that with proper planning, the county would be able to afford to open the jail.

In order to do that, though, the county would have to sell bonds to pay for the project. Not to mention that it would take a lot of planning and research and people would have to be in favor of it, she added.

“It would be a lot of planning. We would have to do a lot of research and get people on board,” she said.