On Monday morning, Congressman Mike Turner visited the Fayette County Commissioners to talk about some of the county’s concerns.
Turner, U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 10th congressional district which covers Montgomery, Greene, and Fayette counties, spent time with the commissioners during their Monday meeting. The bulk of the discussion was spent discussing Fayette County’s need for a new and updated jailhouse, as well as the role heroin usage has taken in overcrowding the jail.
“Right now we are at 71,” said Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, who was also in attendance. “Our jail is only made to hold 24. About 90 to 95 percent of those are because of drugs or drug-related crimes.”
“A lot of people that we are dealing with right now are women,” Fayette County Commissioner Jack DeWeese said. “Around here it seems like they are used by the dealers, they get them hooked on heroin and get them addicted and then they use them to deal. And then they end up in our jail, and it’s kind of hard to accommodate a lot of women in one jail when we are only set up for 24.”
“One issue that we are seeing in the five county area is that babies are born addicted to heroin,” Turner said. “The mothers are addicted and then they find themselves pregnant and unable to deal with the addiction, so the baby is born addicted to heroin. What we are working on now is intervention, finding the women who are addicted and pregnant and get them into a treatment center where we can help them and in doing so, help the babies.”
“We are seeing a big decline in deaths since 2014,” Stanforth said. “That was our big year. We were seeing people mixing meth with fentanyl and it was the fentanyl that was killing them.”
What the commissioners said they would like to see is a recovery home specifically for men, an updated and larger jail, and a transitional area for those who are coming out of prison so that they aren’t put back in the same situation from before they were sent to prison.
“Our jail is used to get people off of heroin,” Stanforth said. “That’s what is going on with our population, we are getting people off the streets and holding them so they can start getting clean before they go for help and recover.”
Turner spent over an hour hearing the concerns of the commissioners, Stanforth, and Deputy Chief Andy Bivens. “I want to work with you on this,” Turner said. “The President just said that he wants to look for more funding, especially for heroin treatment. We don’t know how serious he was about this, but I hope to be able to get funding to help.”
Reach Kellee Bonnell at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @newskelleebee.