The Fairfield County Sheriff admits his jails are overcrowded. It's forcing some of the inmates to sleep on floors, but he says there is a solution in sight.
One look inside the Fairfield county jail reveals a problem that the sheriff says is only getting worse. It's overcrowded.
Lieutenant Marc Churchill says he keeps a close watch on their surveillance monitors and the activity inside.
"If we have a murderer, we're going to make sure he's locked in a cell, but if we have someone who's in on a F5 theft, we're going to let that person be the one who sleeps outside on a mat," said Lt. Churchill.
Deputies say over the weekend, there was a spike of crime and they had to put down 17 extra mattresses on the floor in the main jail. After arraignments and the court releasing some inmates, they're down to two.
People who work in the jail say overcrowding is a cause for concern.
"I worry about safety with my staff. I worry about safety with the inmates. With that many inmates in a housing unit, tempers flare," said Lt. Churchill.
As it stands now, cameras watch the inmates' every move and jail staff walks the halls.
"They would lay the mats on this side cause we want to make sure we keep the inner area clear for an evacuation," said Lt. Churchill.
Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen says a solution to the problem is long overdue and he says there is now a plan for a new jail.
"This jail will house about four hundred prisoners," said Sheriff Phalen. Pointing to the architect's drawings, he says, "each one of these areas where the prisoners will stay. We'll have areas for females, for males."
The sheriff tells us they are three years away from the completion of one large jail. Right now, the county has three separate jails.
"It's going to be a safer facility. It's going to be a facility that meets not only the needs today, but 20-25 years from now," said Sheriff Phalen.
He says the issue of overcrowding will soon be a problem of the past. For now, he says they'll have to make do.
"This is not the Holiday Inn. This is a county jail and the mattresses are ok," said Sheriff Phalen.
Learn more about a unique feature planned for the new jail by clicking the video on the right. Sheriff Phalen explains why the new $30 million dollar jail will also have a safe room.
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