The problems with the Monroe County Jail have been documented in news articles for decades

Reports by Herald-Times reporters from the 1990s document that the issues with the Monroe County Jail being discussed today were also in the news 25 years ago. There has been a lot of talk since, but not much action.

Excerpt from a 1998 HT story

“So far this year, the lowest number of prisoners was 155 in early February. The number soared to 217 – 83 overcapacity. On June 11, 1998, the prison held 192 inmates. This compares to 121 in ten years prior to June 15, 1988. The increase in prison population over the 10 year period is 58% The population of Monroe County has increased only about 11% during the same period.

In 1998, the prison changed most of the single-berth cells to double-berth cells. The change meant fewer people sleeping on floor mats and increased the number of beds from 134 to 205.

Excerpt from a 1999 HT story on how the conditions of confinement stressed the building, the correctional officers and the inmates:

According to Sheriff Steve Sharp and Jail Commandant Bill Wilson, “A summer 1998 initiative to double-cross inmates caused more problems than it solved.

“Populations soared to 231. By early November, populations were holding steady at around 220. Although double bunking might have seemed like a good idea at the time, designed so that inmates could all be locked in cells, it has really aggravated problems. There have been more fights in prison recently.

In 2002, the county purchased 85 acres just south of the former RCA factory site for $1.3 million. Elected officials discussed building a court complex there that would have included a new jail and a juvenile detention center that never made it past the discussion stage.

Excerpt from a 2003 HT story

“Two consultants are urging Monroe County officials to bite the bullet and address all of their correctional issues – prison overcrowding and the need for expanded community corrections and a juvenile treatment center – in one giant effort.

“Their proposal, priced up to $58 million, is for three facilities, all located on the 85-acre site south of the former Thomson factory, which the commissioners purchased a few months ago.”

Part of the plan was a $24 million county jail and sheriff’s headquarters. The project included $7 million to house minors and low-level adult offenders. Another $5 million would have made it possible to renovate the current jail space in the downtown Justice Building for use by the justice system.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Problems with Monroe County jail documented in news reports

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