COLUMBUS, Ohio – On Friday Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Annette Chambers-Smith announced $50 million in funding to rebuild or expand six local jails around the state, including $1.9 million for the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail (SEORJ) in Nelsonville.
The money was allocated to support local jail renovations in Senate Bill 310, which was passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed by Governor DeWine in December 2020, according to a news release from the governor’s office. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s (ODRC) Bureau of Adult Detention administered the application process and selected jails based on those with the greatest need for construction and renovation work to improve conditions and operations. The ability of each jail to serve neighboring jurisdictions was also considered.
According to a summary of the SEORJ project written by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, “The Corrections Commission for the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail will receive capital funding in the amount of $1.9 million for an expansion of the existing facility. This expansion will convert a portion of the jail into additional housing and increase the overall capacity. The current capacity of the jail is 218, and this increase in capacity will improve service to the regional jail member counties. This new project will also upgrade the programming space in the jail and increase specialty housing for mental health purposes.”
SEORJ serves Athens, Hocking, Perry, Meigs and Morgan counties.
Counties receiving grants to assist in building new jails due to the age and condition of their current county jail facilities include:
• Coshocton County — $10.1 million
• Gallia County — $5.5 million
• Harrison County — $9.1 million
• Lawrence County — $16.8 million
SEORJ is one of two multi-county jails receiving funding to expand their facilities to better serve neighboring counties: The other is the Scioto County Jail, which is receiving $1.5 million.
“Upgrading these jails is about more than just safety, it’s also about providing an environment that can influence positive change,” DeWine said in the news release. “These jails have fallen into such disrepair because the counties simply couldn’t afford the cost to rebuild on their own. With this help from the state, the improved county jails will better meet the demands of our modern criminal justice system and better address inmates’ underlying issues that may be causing criminal behavior, such as mental health or substance use concerns.”