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Published: Tuesday, 3/6/2001

Judicial board picks designer for 9-county jail's expansion

TIFFIN - Less than two years after a nine-county correctional facility opened in this city for nonviolent male felons, officials are planning to expand the center and build a unit to house women with $2.4 million in state funds.

The 12-member judicial board that oversees the 50-bed jail has hired a Toledo architectural firm, Seyfang Blanchard Duket Porter, to design the addition and the women's facility, which is slated to open late next year.

The correctional center is run by Oriana House, a nonprofit company based in Akron that runs similar facilities and halfway houses. The jail is known as CROSSWAEH, an acronym that stands for the counties that use the facility: Crawford, Richland, Ottawa, Seneca, Sandusky, Wyandot, Ashland, Erie, and Huron.

Bill Scheub, manager of projects for Oriana, said the funding from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will be enough to add 70 beds to the complex, which is across from the Seneca County sheriff's office at U.S. 224 and State Rt. 100 south of Tiffin.

Mr. Scheub said the board is studying how to allocate the new beds. An initial proposal called for 20 extra beds at the men's center and 50 beds at the new women's facility.

“We're just sitting back waiting to see how the judges want to distribute those 70 beds,” he said.

Design work is expected to take six to nine months, with construction taking about a year, Mr. Scheub said.

Judge Harry Sargeant, Jr., of Sandusky County Common Pleas Court said he and his colleagues on the judicial board are considering adding a wing that would treat up to 15 offenders with mental illnesses. He said a correctional facility for female offenders is needed “because there really aren't any available.”

“Unfortunately, women seem to be getting in trouble just like men,” he said.

Community-based correctional facilities such as the one in Tiffin are aimed at rehabilitating low-level felons through community service, restitution, and such programs as drug treatment, job training, and academic classes.

“If you don't have a CBCF, your main choices are to put them in jail or put them in prison, and it's very costly to put them in prison,” Judge Sargeant said. “So the state is very interested in funding these things.”

The state pays about $1.5 million a year for operations at the correctional center, which opened in October, 1999.

Judge Sargeant said the board is pleased with Oriana's handling of the facility, the first privately run jail in northwest Ohio.

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