Pike County Sheriff Tracy D. Evans (second row, third from left) joined a group of Ohio sheriffs to discuss a jail funding bill at the Ohio Statehouse in late September. To Evans’ right is Scioto County Sheriff David Thoroughman.

Dear Editor,

The Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, representing the 88 county Sheriffs of Ohio had a discussion with their state representatives at the Ohio State House on the Sept. 29.

The primary purpose of the meeting was to discuss House Bill 101, a bill that would provide a funding formula for new jails in Ohio counties. Pike County Sheriff Tracy D. Evans met with Pike County’s State Rep. Shane Wilkin of District 91 and Scioto County’s State Rep. Brian Baldridge of District 90.

During their meeting, Sheriff Evans explained the pitfalls and extra costs Pike County is faced with by not having a jail. Sheriff Evans explained to Reps. Wilkin and Baldridge that he and the Pike County Commissioners have had several discussions about the need for a jail and the costs of construction and operational costs of a jail.

Sheriff Evans explained that in the past several years, the Pike County Sheriff’s Office has been left with the alternative to transportation prisoners 110 miles one way to Hamilton, Ohio and creating a 4-hour round trip. Fortunately, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office (Sheriff Jones) was willing to provide jail space for Pike County. Several years ago, surrounding counties had cut ties with the Pike County Sheriff’s Office and would no longer house Pike County prisoners.

Upon taking office on Jan. 4, 2021, Sheriff Evans immediately reached out to surrounding Sheriffs’ and re-established strong working relationships regarding prisoner housing. The arrangement with the Butler County Jail has alone cost over $700,000.00 for the year 2021. However, this has not included salary expenses for transport officers, their overtime, fuel, equipment, and damage/depreciation of county vehicles being used to transport these prisoners.

Sheriff Evans further explained to Wilkin and Baldridge that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the staffs of the sheriff’s offices in Ohio and the persons sentenced to Ohio jails. Additionally, not having a jail has also had a negative impact on the local Pike County Courts.

The Courts, through their probation departments, have had a restricted ability to manage sentences without a local jail. Without a county jail, long distance transportation of prisoners to other county jails has a high cost in terms of deputy time away from responding to calls.

The Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association strongly supports HB 101, in cooperation with the County Commissioners Association. Sheriff Evans and the Pike County Commissioners are very interested in working together to determine if Pike County will qualify for the funding HB 101 would provide toward a jail.

As the Commissioners stated in a recent edition of the News Watchman, the land and infrastructure are available, and the location is ideal for a jail. In October 2021, 67% of Pike County’s inmates were of violent crimes, and 38% of those inmates were booked in under murder charges. Sheriff Evans plans to keep the citizens of Pike County informed of the progress on HB 101.

Now that HB 101 has passed in the House of Representatives, it moves forward to the approval of the Senate. Sheriff Evans wishes to express his appreciation for the time State Reps Wilkin and Baldridge spent with the Ohio Sheriffs concerning this important piece of legislation.

Sheriff Evans is continually working with the Pike County Commissioners to establish a justification for a new jail construction if the HB 101 should pass into law.

- Sheriff Tracy D. Evans

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