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Justice Center To Expand Treatment Program For Addicted Inmates

The Hamilton County Justice Center has several programs designed to help inmates with different issues. Several veterans are kept together because they can identify with each other's needs. Inmates who are about to be released are housed together as they receive counseling designed to prepare them to re-enter the world at large. The Justice Center also has a section devoted to inmates with addiction issues. That program is going to be expanded.

A pod is a secure two-story section of the jail containing cells, bathrooms and a common area. Many of the existing pods hold 16 people. The expanded treatment pods will house 92 to start.

Commissioner Denise Driehaus says the idea for the specialized pods is to reduce recidivism. "This is an expansion of the work that's already being done here. It's been very effective," she says. "Anecdotally, I've come over a couple of times and visited with the women in the pod, and they will tell you how important it is to them to have that kind of experience in the Justice Center and how that helps them succeed once they leave."

One floor on each of the two towers of the Justice Center will be remodeled to house the treatment pods.

"That's going to free up other jail space for my hardened criminals," says Jail Services' Major Chris Ketteman. "The areas that we are going to be getting those inmates out of are going to be areas that I'm going to be able to house those hardened criminals who are coming in here with the murder charge; coming in for rape or felonious assault."

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
Members of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition toured the Justice Center and visited the veterans' pod.

Ketteman says while the Justice Center was built to hold 875 people, it currently has about 1,569. He says on any given day, 50 to 60 of those inmates are also getting treated for opiate addiction.

He says the new pod areas will contain everything needed and required. "It's not just beds. It's going to be your restrooms, your showers, your day space area," he explains. "Minimum jail standards require certain things: amount of space, number of personnel in that space, restrooms. All that had to come into this and reach the minimum jail standards." 

Other programs and functions, like the chapel and GED program, are being either downsized or moved within the Justice Center. Ketteman says some commanders are giving up their offices to make space. An IT server room is being relocated to the county administration building on Court Street.

The new pods should be open by the end of 2019.