TROY, Ohio (WDTN) – The Miami County Sheriff’s Office is finding new ways to deal with the growing problem of overcrowding in their women’s jails caused by the emergent heroin and opioid epidemic.
Miami County currently has two facilities to house inmates, but when their female population began to outgrow their downtown jail space, the sheriff’s office was forced to transport women to Shelby County.
To remedy the problem, they opened up a female pod in their lower level incarceration facility to deal with the overflow of inmates.
The women are able to live in an open dormitory style space, because the crimes they’ve committed classified them as less of a threat and low risk factors for assaulting staff or escaping.
Chief Deputy Steve Lord telling 2 NEWS this was the best way to address their overcrowding now that they’re seeing 10 times as many women being incarcerated.
“When I first started as far as within the jail here, you maybe had 3-4 female inmates and that has grown to the point where we’re up in the 30s and 40s as far as commitments,” Lord said.
He believes the spike in female inmates can largely be linked to the heroin and opioid epidemic.
“We’ve been surprised by the amount of crime associated heroin,” Lord said. “Seems like there’s a large supply of drugs on the street. Miami County seems to be suffering more from an abuse problem than it is trafficking, so it’s encouraging to see Montgomery County, you know, working with our detectives to try to stem that supply.
It’s not just drug related crimes that’s causing the beds to fill up Lord said, “The other thing that’s striking is the type of crimes they’re involved in. They’re the more violent crimes, more felony type activity, so yeah we’re seeing a change in the culture.”
The new women’s jail pod can house as many as 60 female inmates. The sheriff’s department hired 5 new correctional officers to operate that section of the jail.