By EILEEN MCCLORY
Hancock County jail numbers are creeping back up after falling in November and December, adding stress to jail officials’ workloads.
Lt. Ryan Kidwell of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office said the number of prisoners has risen slightly since the beginning of January, and ranges between 110 and 120 people in the jail each week.
On Tuesday, 125 people were in jail, but some were housed in the Van Wert and Putnam county jails.
The county jail began operations Wednesday with a population of 130, he said, but that dropped to 123 people by noon, with 24 inmates housed in other counties.
The Hancock County jail has 98 beds. To accommodate more inmates, the jail has contracted with Van Wert, Putnam and Wood county jails.
Kidwell said the higher numbers place added stress on jail employees, who already deal with inmates’ mental health problems, and drug and alcohol problems on an everyday basis. He said the staff members attempt to make sure they are getting tasks completed while meeting jail standards.
Kidwell said his staff has learned to manage well over the many months with a high volume of inmates in the jail.
“Unfortunately, this becomes somewhat of a norm,” Kidwell said.
A sales tax placed on the ballot in November 2017 to fund a jail expansion was voted down.
The county commissioners said Tuesday that they planned to borrow $1.5 million for deferred maintenance on the jail.