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Sheriff talks jails, drugs at Rotary lunch

Tana Weingartner

On his first appearance before the Cincinnati Rotary, Sheriff Jim Neil reiterated the county does not need a new jail.

"Judges will sentence to capacity whether you have 3,000 jail cells or 1,000," he says.

Neil handed out awards Thursday to several deputies and took questions ranging from the budget to drugs and the county jail.

Neil has been expanding electronic monitoring and would like to add even more of the devices. He says what the county does lack is enough space for female and special needs inmates.

Another problem? Heroin.

Thought to be past its prime, the drug is making a major comeback and that's causing increased problems with STD's and especially Hepatitis C.

"I have 1,400 people in our jail everyday," he says. "It's given that there's going to be at least 70-something of those people, almost 1/15th of the population, test positive with Hepatitis C. That's serious because it's contagious."

Neil also says he's about $3.8 million off budget. The sheriff's department is working to absorb a $4 million cut.