Nearly $20M renovation of county jail looks to address needs of inmates with special needs

DAYTON — Montgomery County leaders announced Friday their plan to renovate the jail and add 100 beds for those with special medical or mental health needs.

The renovations are expected to cost nearly $20 million and will be paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funds and opioid settlement dollars, a spokesperson for the county said in a release.

The planning and research took six years and incorporated local community members comprising the Justice Committee and the Behavioral Health Task Force, according to Montgomery County Commission President, Debbie Lieberman.

>> Montgomery County Jail to add more nurses

“The Justice Committee was empowered to review the jail’s policies and procedures to determine what investments were needed to improve safety and ensure a humane environment,” Lieberman said. “Members were local citizens from all walks of life.”

The committee recommended the jail be replaced with a more “modern facility” that could humanely house offenders, provide programs and space for services, and afford a safe environment for both inmates and staff.

The county applied for two jail renovation and construction grants through the state but did not receive any funding from those grants. The county continued investing in the jail, with about $7 million in the past five years funding improvements in the jail security and fire alarm systems and an HVAC unit ventilator replacement.

The county hired Levin Porter Architects to provide initial plans that would allow space in the jail to provide detox and suicide prevention treatment, medical care, as well as better manage the intake and booking of juveniles, the spokesperson said.

>> Local restaurant pays off elementary students’ lunch debt so they can enjoy ‘Ice Cream Friday’

“The diverse and evolving needs of our inmate population is a direct reflection of the challenges we observe in our community’s overall health,” said Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck. “It’s essential to recognize and address these unique needs, whether they pertain to medical, mental health, or addiction concerns.”

The next step will be to ensure inmates continue their treatment after they are released from jail with assisted outpatient treatment, according to Probate Court Judge David Brannon.

“We have seen success in other counties such as Summit, Franklin and Lorain,” said Brannon. “This also helps us avoid the risk of having a revolving door of care – where a person is dropped off at the jail, staff don’t know the person’s medical or behavioral health history, and the process starts over again.”

The planned changes to the jail will be made within the current facility, without any need for additional square footage.

“We are cutting 226 general population beds and adding 100 medical and behavioral health needs beds,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge. “So, while we will have fewer total beds, from 911 to 785, the number of medical, mental health and detox beds will increase from 12 to 112.”

For more information, you can visit the county’s website here.