Hamilton County commissioners, Sheriff’s Department officials, and others involved in the expansion of the Hamilton County Justice Center toured the project. From left are Senator Louis W. Blessing; Trina Jackson, Director of Office of Reentry; Chief Tom Synan, Village of Newtown Police; Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey, Hamilton County; County Commissioner Denise Driehaus; Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman; Tiffany Mattingly, Health Collaborative; Commission President Alicia Reece; Nicole Schiesler, President/CEO of PreventionFIRST!; District Chief Carstell Winston, Cincinnati Fire Department; Representative Bill Seitz; Linda Gallagher, Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board; Representative Catherine Ingram; Meagan Guthrie, Director of Hamilton County Office of Addiction Response; and Commissioner Stephanie Summerow Dumas. Photo by Bridget Doherty

By Bridget Doherty

Hamilton County Commission

County officials on April 14 toured the Hamilton County Justice Center’s 92-bed treatment expansion that is nearly completed.

Hamilton County Commissioners, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio Legislative Delegation, and the Hamilton County Addiction and Response Coalition, received a first-hand look at the Hamilton County Justice Center’s new Capacity and Recovery Expansion (CARE) Pods. The Pods are designed to provide treatment services for inmates struggling with substance use disorder and mental health to help break the cycle of recidivism and increase public safety.

The Justice Center Expansion maximizes the use of the existing jail structure by converting 8,912 square feet of former office and storage space into two dormitory-style pods, one in the north building and one in the south building.  The County leveraged a $2.5 million state capital grant to renovate the 38-year-old structure.

The current Justice Center was built in 1985 and designed to house a total 875 inmates. The total Justice Center population, including the Reading Rd. facility, is 1,187 men and women. The Hamilton County Justice Center remains the largest detox facility in Hamilton County. Of the 2021 overdose decedents, 76% had a history of incarceration at the Justice Center.

Hamilton County has released a Request for Proposals to administer the treatment and recovery program. A provider is expected to be selected by the end of April with a comprehensive treatment program with therapeutic counseling and wrap around services phased by summer pending Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction review.

Before the tour, HC ARC released the State of the Addiction Crisis Annual Report that includes data collected over the past year and what is being done to save lives through overdose prevention, treatment, diversion, interdiction, and harm reduction. The Hamilton County Addiction Response Coalition, in the 2022 State of the Addiction Crisis Annual Report, announced overdose deaths have shown a significant 16% decrease from 2021 to 2022. Various programs including increased access to naloxone and medication-assisted treatment, as well as community outreach and deflection initiatives are highlighted in the report.

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