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Last week, state and county leaders broke ground on a new $76 million facility that will house a new county jail, as well as county law enforcement administration offices. The new facility will replace the current jail — which was built in 1969 — in downtown Xenia. (Rendering by Wachtel & McAnally)

New Greene County Jail construction underway

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On Friday, Oct. 27, state and county leaders gathered at the Greene County Adult Detention Center, or ADC, on Green Way Boulevard in Xenia to break ground on a $76 million facility that will house a new county jail as well as county law enforcement administration offices.

This new facility will replace the current county jail in downtown Xenia. Built in 1969, the jail has been under a federal consent decree for its subpar infrastructure and overcrowding since 1989.

Whereas the current jail can hold up to 146 inmates and the ADC 236 inmates for overflow, the replacement facility will hold a total of 482 — that is, 100 more available beds for county inmates.

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Dubbed the Greene County Gene Fischer Correctional Center, the new facility takes its name from the former county sheriff, who died in 2022 and spent much of his career petitioning for a new, improved jail.

The construction of the new jail is funded by a $15 million state grant, $30 million in sales tax-funded bonds, $10 million in revenue from the American Rescue Plan Act and $40 million from the Greene County general fund.

Greene County voters rejected tax levies to pay for a new jail in 2020 and 2021. The original levy, if it had passed, would have financed a 500-bed new jail design; the latter would have funded a 384-bed design.

According to County Administrator Brandon Huddleson, with whom the News spoke earlier this week, those two levies never factored into “if” the county would build a new jail.

“We’ve long needed a better jail,” Huddleson said. “The one we have now is just not performing the way it needs to. Those levies would have been short-term solutions to help pay for a new building, and so now, [the county] is ultimately paying more.”

The county administrator added: “It’s not up to the voters whether we need a new jail — that’s the responsibility of the sheriff and the commissioners. This has been needed for a long time.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine — who was present for the Oct. 27 groundbreaking ceremony, and who began his political career in the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office — said in a press release in April of this year that the $15 million grant given to Greene County was a part of a larger, statewide initiative called the Ohio Jail Safety and Security Grant Program, which freed up $50 million to 11 counties for jail construction and renovation projects.

“It’s critical that our jails are safe and secure, but it’s also important that our jail environments can influence positive change and put inmates on a good path upon release,” DeWine’s release read. “With this funding, we’re helping these local jails move forward with projects that will allow them to better meet the demands of our modern criminal justice system and further support the growing number of inmates struggling with substance use and mental health issues.”

Wayne County — which also received $15 million to expand and renovate that county’s existing jail — tied with Greene County for the highest amount awarded by the state initiative.

The new Greene County jail building will be attached to the existing Adult Detention Center — which was built in 2000. Currently, the detention center is used for minimum-security offenders. In addition to the 482 total beds, the new facility at the detention center will include new administration and coroner offices. Also, the new facility will have space for mental health programming and other medical services, such as the county’s Greene Leaf program that offers substance abuse counseling.

“And these are the kinds of programs we want to provide a bigger venue for,” Huddleson said. “Greene Leaf has been hugely successful, so we want to see that program grow and see others. This jail will create that space.”

Construction on the new Greene County jail is expected to take two years.

As previously reported in the News, the new jail was designed by Wachtel & McAnally, a Newark, Ohio-based architectural and planning firm that has done projects for public and private sectors, including building schools. The firm has built jails in 33 counties throughout the state, including facilities in neighboring Clark and Clinton counties.

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