LOGAN — It’s final — the Corrections Facility Future Use Team (CFFUT), consisting of representatives from 18 organizations/agencies, was selected by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) to oversee the recently closed Hocking Correctional Facility in Nelsonville.

“The remarkable thing about this effort is the collaboration that is occurring between 18 different organizations from throughout the region,” stated Hocking County Municipal Court Judge Fred Moses. “No one is aware of a similar project anywhere in the country where we can provide all the services in one place to return people who are drug dependent to our community and a better quality of life. DRC has been a great partner and they are committed to making this project a success for our community.”

According to a press release received by The Logan Daily News late Friday, the current plan includes DRC leasing the facility to the Hocking County Commissioners for $1 per year, who will then delegate oversight of a secure jail area to the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office, and a treatment area to the Hocking County Community Corrections Board.

“We are ready to accept the challenge because the facility will provide much needed jail space, particularly for females, and offer a path to recovery for people who are dependent upon drugs,” HCSO Sheriff Lanny North said.

DRC will retain ownership of the facility and has committed to paying for roughly $7 million in capital expenses over the next 10 years. The facility will be a multi-use facility offering a wide array of services from secure incarceration to treatment, housing, detox, education and job training to drug dependent individuals from Hocking County and the surrounding areas.

This arrangement depends on final action from the Hocking County Commissioners; however, Commissioner President Jeff Dickerson said he believes — “the commissioners are very supportive of the proposal.”

According to Moses, although the final decision is up to the commissioners on whether they will accept the terms of the $1 per year lease, before this occurs, everything must be in order for DRC, and reviewed by the prosecutor.

While several counties will benefit from the facility, it is uncertain what counties will be affected.

“It will be a Hocking County facility, but it will be open to other counties,” stated Moses. “A lot of agencies are involved in this. It’s still a work in progress.

“We have the access to a facility with a lot of beds and we’re trying to figure out what to do with those beds,” he added. “Our goal here is not to hurt the original jail (Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail) but to work in conjunction with them for some female bed space.

“But the big thing here is to have a place for incarceration and treatment,” Moses continued. “So the goal is to have a place where we can incarcerate people then probation officers and treatment agencies get them the help they need and get them out of jail as quickly as possible to help reduce the cost. We’re trying to offer a one-stop shop to help everybody.”

Moses said while there’s been talk about building a jail in Hocking County over the past few years, with this plan, Hocking County is getting a jail without the exorbitant cost of building it.

“This is very exciting for Hocking County,” Moses comment. “Look at what DRC said — we’ll give this to you for $1 per year for the next 10 years. This changes the game of having some type of facility in the county and they want to do a model that’s never been tried before anywhere in the country — that’s what we’re working towards.”

Moses said there is no projected date at this time of when the facility will be ready for occupancy.

“This is a Hocking County facility, set in Hocking County, and that’s the key,” Moses reiterated. “Everybody has been jumping through hoops and saying things that were not quite accurate.

“This is really exciting — this is something that Hocking County Municipal Court has been working towards for years — to have a jail and treatment center in one. This is a really big deal. I hope Hocking County realizes how hard we’ve worked to get us here and how proud of it we are,” he concluded.

Representatives from area recovery agencies are developing options for locally providing services at the facility. The next steps include discussions regarding the options with DRC and area lawmakers.

The CFFUT team plans on hosting a community forum when more details are clear to answer questions and solicit input.

Representatives from Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions and Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs are providing resources for facilitating the process and supporting the efforts of local communities to make this unique project a reality.

Story first published on May 8, 2018

Load comments