Proposed OH Jail Standards Designed To Limit Sheriffs’ Legal Liability


Proposed minimum standards for 20,000 Ohio jail inmates would allow sheriffs to limit prisoners to two meals a day, reduce showers to every other day and shorten visitation time, reports the Columbus Dispatch. The rules would greatly improve treatment of mentally ill inmates but would dramatically reduce mandatory training for jail employees and potentially allow sheriffs to better fend off prisoner lawsuits. The proposal results from a 2012 statewide jail assessment.

After more than four years with no jail inspections, only two state employees are assigned to inspect 92 full-service jails, 13 minimum-security jails, 90 12-day jails, 18 12-hour jails and 136 temporary holding facilities. Bob Cornwell of the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association admits that much of the motivation behind the revised standards is to limit liability and accompanying costs of prisoner lawsuits. Sheriffs say their jails and budgets are straining under the increased costs of housing, feeding and caring for a growing number of prisoners. While not “driven by the dollar,” the standards involve “common sense” changes that would allow sheriffs to operate their jails more efficiently, Cornwell said.

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