Tours of the current Fayette County Jail will be available this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to allow members of the community to view the conditions of the 135-year-old facility.
The Health Fair and Family Fun Day is also this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. At the health fair, there will be a booth set up to share information about the jail levy on the May 7 ballot and to encourage residents to take the tour. The health fair is happening at Grace Community Church, 525 Glenn Ave. in Washington Court House. It is a free event with many door-prizes, health screenings, activities for kids and various information.
The jail is located at 113 E. Market St. in Washington Court House. The tours will be conducted by jail staff.
There are two parts to the May 7 special election jail levy. The first part is to construct a new and updated adult detention facility. The second part is to provide financial support for the operational expenses of the adult detention facility (this includes the cost of staff and medical providers). The jail is proposed to be built on county-owned land near the landfill on Robinson Road.
Essentially, the current jail was built in 1884. It is considered outdated and does not meet state standards, according to county officials. There is little chance to provide medical or psychological care due to the lack of space available for such services. Work conditions are considered unsafe and unsanitary, officials said. Originally, it was built for a 24-bed capacity and today there is an average of 67 inmates housed in the jail at one time, according to CORSA.
CORSA is a not-for-profit property and liability risk sharing pool that was started by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio in 1987. It provides property and liability coverage as well as risk management services (insurance). In Ohio, 66 counties and 42 county-affiliated public entities are serviced by them. Fayette County is one of those 66.
The tour will be open to anyone, but minors must be accompanied by their parent(s) or guardian(s). There will be no contact with inmates during the tours. Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said, “The goal is just to expose everybody to the reality of what we have to deal with. So they can see for themselves the need for the new jail.”
He explained this will give the opportunity for people to see how the building has been maintained for the last 135 years. They have put a lot of work into the building, but it cannot meet state standards, he said.
Stanforth said he hopes this can show the community what the staff has to go through on a daily basis in attempts to keep the facility safe. The staff and the inmates have to deal with the conditions 24 hours a day, and those who take the tour will get a small view into these conditions, he said.
“Of course it’s a jail—we realize it’s a jail—but we still need to meet the required standards that are set up by law,” Stanforth said.
Everyone is welcome to take the tour, and Stanforth said he hopes to see everyone at either the health fair, the tour or both.
For more information on the health fair, please visit its Facebook event page “2019 Community Health Fair Family Fun Day.” For more information on CORSA, please visit corsa.org. For more information on the jail levy, please check other Record-Herald articles and stop by the levy information booth this Saturday.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-31-0355 or on Twitter @kenanipel.