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State Makes Changes to Local Jail Standards

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The rules on meals, showers and other issues in local jails may soon be changing. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, the state prisons department says the new rules will give local law enforcement more flexibility.

Monday, March 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm

A legislative agency has allowed the state to whittle down the amount of standards for local jails.

Changes include lowering the minimum amount of meals a jail must provide on weekends and holidays from three meals a day to two. Instead of requiring an inmate to shower once every 24 hours, that minimum was expanded to every 48 hours. And visitation minutes were adjusted to accommodate online video technology.

Some of Ohio’s jails were built in the 1800s, while others are brand new facilities.

Sheriff Michael Heldman from Hancock County says these changes provide more flexibility for buildings of all ages.

“An old jail may not have the square footage or have the lighting or natural light that a newer jail would have," Heldman said. "So we had to become a little more flexible because jails were not -- they weren’t passing inspections...And they were still fully functional and they were clean and they were up to date other than those few little oddities.”

The ACLU of Ohio said they were for some of the changes, such as the provisions to provide mental health screenings. However, the changes to showers, meals and visitations do raise concerns for the group which says it would impact the re-entry process.