MOUNT VERNON — Ohio’s Bureau of Adult Detention, through an annual inspection, has given the Knox County Jail a rating of 100 percent compliant on all “essential” jail standards, Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer informed Knox County Commissioners Thursday.
“It lowers the liability on the commissioners,” Shaffer said regarding the importance of essential compliance.
Shaffer provided commissioners with a copy of the letter from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, signed by Bureau of Adult Detention Assistant Administrator Scott Filicky and approved by Administrator John F. Adams. The jail was inspected Oct. 19, 2019, which was followed by corrective material sent through the Ohio Jail Management System.
“We appreciate your efforts in attempting to maintain compliance with the standards for jails in Ohio,” Filicky wrote. “The Knox County Jail is now compliant with 100 percent of the Essential Standards and at least 90 percent of the Important Standards, meeting the requirements of a ‘Compliant Jail.’”
Shaffer said meeting 100 percent compliance on all “important” standards under state rules would be nearly impossible without outsourcing some jail inmates. The county facility is a small jail housing up to about 100 inmates and uses a classification system that is simpler than the state’s, he said.
For example, the jail does not separate inmates by type of offense, Shaffer noted, and it does not separate inmates by violent vs. non-violent offenders as the state seeks. The county jail also has just six space-confined dorms, one of them for up to about 20 women, along with some segregated cells. So trying to separate inmates based on all preferred state classifications is not doable, Shaffer said. Doing so would require a substantial jail expansion or outsourcing inmates to other larger jails.
“Since we’re a small jail, we obviously have the same turnover of (inmates) a lot of times,” he offered. “We can separate them by who we know and who gets along with others.”
Incidents of inmate-on-jail staff violence are rare,” Shaffer said, and inmate-on-inmate violence is not common, he added. If inmates are deemed to be violent, they can be placed in segregated cells.
However, the truth is “The people in jail with the most violent offenses aren’t necessarily going to be the ones who give you the most trouble,” Shaffer added.
Currently, the jail has 79 inmates total, including 58 males and 21 females, with some of those being federal prison inmates. That is down from last year’s monthly average of 88 inmates. Shaffer said he could not account for the lower number at present, as jail population can change overnight.
Last year, the jail served more than 94,000 meals at an average per-meal cost of $1.21. When the cost of serving the food is added to the total, with most meals pre-made, it works out to $2.89 per meal.
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