The city jail in Sheffield Lake might need upgrades to maintain its status as a 12-day facility, police Chief Tony Campo said. The designation means prisoners can be jailed there for that long, saving the city the cost of housing them in the county jail.
Campo said in an interview last week that he was waiting to hear from the state about needed improvements after an inspection of the 49-year-old jail last month by Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation staff.
Based on discussion during the inspection, Campo said improvements probably will include installing steel doors and a concrete or steel-reinforced wall to separate jail cells and the booking area from the dispatch and office areas. However, he cautioned that the list and cost won’t be known until the city receives the state’s determination letter, adding that he wasn’t told when to expect it.
Campo said he had spoken with Mayor Dennis Bring and Services Superintendent Pat Hastings about the potential cost of the upgrades. The original estimate was $50,000 to $60,000, but Campo said last week it could be far less. Options for the cash-strapped community to pay for upgrades include finding grant money, changing the jail’s certification from a 12-day facility to a 12-hour facility and shutting the jail, with the two latter options unlikely, according to Campo.
The two cells are mainly used for those arrested for violating municipal ordinances, while those booked on more serious charges, including felonies, are transferred to the Lorain County Jail, the chief explained. Examples of local infractions include speeding, failure to stop, minor auto accidents, curfew violations, dog at large, and loud music. Those cases are handled through Mayor's Court.
Warrants are issued for those convicted in Mayor's Court who don’t pay their fines and court costs. This occurs most often when someone fails to appear for a hearing. Once arrested on a warrant, they can be housed at the city jail until their fine is paid.
If the city closes the jail or reduces it to a 12-hour facility, those people would be taken to the county jail. However, the $80 daily cost of housing a prisoner in the county jail could quickly exceed the amount of the fine, meaning the city would lose money.
Meanwhile, Hastings will search for possible grant funding. Campo said he will not know until the state's letter arrives how long the city will have to complete any potential upgrades.
Contact freelance reporter Michele Murphy at email@example.com.