DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Stressing that the jail population is a reflection of society at large, officials detailed plans for the Montgomery County Jail to address mental illness and substance abuse Friday.

The jail is cutting 226 general population beds and adding 100 medical and behavioral health needs beds. Currently, the Montgomery County Jail has only 12 already in the facility.

“So, while we will have fewer total beds, from 911 to 785, the number of medical, mental health and detox beds will increase from 12 to 112,” said Commissioner Judy Dodge.

Sarah Hackenbracht is the president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA). She says the county should have a dashboard at the county-level which is able to display information that the courts, jail and law enforcement officials have the ability to see how to care for different individuals they interact with.

“Behavioral health requires a multi-system approach that invests in connectivity to serve our
most vulnerable citizens – and we are seeing Montgomery County prioritize that investment
today,” said Hackenbracht. “Ensuring that the Montgomery County jail and its staff are
equipped to address the physical and behavioral health needs of their population is critical to
that shared vision.”

Montgomery County Probate Court Judge David Brannon says treatment after an inmate’s stay at the jail is just as important compared to in the jail.

“We have seen success in other counties such as Summit, Franklin and Lorain,” said
Brannon. “This also helps us avoid the risk of having a revolving door of care – where a person
is dropped off at the jail, staff don’t know the person’s medical or behavioral health history,
and the process starts over again.”

County officials talked about how the cost of operating within and modifying the existing jail would cost less than a tenth of the $200 million a new jail was estimated to run.

“At less than $20 million, we are meeting the needs of the Sheriff, the inmates, and the nurses and corrections officers who care for them while incarcerated,” said Dodge.

According to Dodge, the plan will utilize funding from both the American Rescue Plan Act and the opioid settlement.

As of Aug. 29, seven people have died in the Montgomery County Jail in 2023.