When the Fairfield County, Oh., sheriff persuaded officials there last year to house jail inmates at a nearby unused state prison, he expected to save money despite the cost to rent and run it. That's because the county had been spending more than $1 million a year to ship prisoners to surrounding counties that could handle the overflow from the sheriff's small jails, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Despite opening the new facility in October, the county had to send about 15 female prisoners out of county, at a cost of about $900 a day, because there was no room for them.
A look at jail operations in central Ohio found that several are close to or at capacity, and those with space are not always willing to rent room to neighboring counties. Franklin County has between 300 and 350 empty beds a day, out of the 2,314 available in its two jails. Mark Barrett, the chief deputy in charge of jail operations, said that except for about 75 prisoners kept for the U.S. Marshals Service, jail policy is to house only inmates who were charged in Franklin County. Counties with plenty of jail space still have had to adjust because of the growing number of women in jail.