Unanimous Support for New Jail by Lake County Local Corrections Planning Board

June 30, 2021 — The members of the Lake County Local Corrections Planning Board (Corrections Board) in attendance voted unanimously to support the Sheriff and Board of Commissioners initiative to construct a new Jail and Public Safety Center in Painesville, Ohio. The Corrections Board is chaired by Chief Probation Officer Craig Berry and is comprised of elected officials and agency directors from the county courts, municipal courts, adult probation, local law enforcement, mental health, and community correction agencies. The Ohio Revised Code requires each County in the State of Ohio to form a Local Community Correction Planning Board to establish a comprehensive plan for corrections and its implementation.

Sheriff Frank Leonbruno, Commissioner John Hamercheck, and Commissioner John Plecnik provided the Board an update on the current status of the existing jail and long-term concerns with capacity, physical condition and operational challenges. Opened in 1990, the current jail averages approximately 360 Lake County Court inmates per day. “The current facility was obsolete from the day it opened and the County is now faced with the challenge of providing the proper facilities for Sheriff’s Office that meets our current and future needs,” said Commissioner John Hamercheck.

Lake County Court of Common Pleas Judge Vince Culotta made the motion “to support the recommendation of Sheriff Leonbruno to the Lake County Commissioners to construct a new jail.” His motion was seconded by Painesville Municipal Court Judge Paul Malchesky who added: “the need for the proposed jail facility that includes expanded services for mental health and drug/alcohol treatment is vital to keep Lake County safe.”

“First and foremost, Lake County stands with law enforcement, and I am so grateful for the leadership of our judges and community leaders on the Corrections Board,” said Commissioner John Plecnik. “My vote in favor of constructing a new public safety facility to house the Jail and Sheriff’s Office is a vote in favor of law and order, in favor of expanding services for those suffering from mental illness and addiction, and for fiscal responsibility. Over the long-term, the construction of a new facility, as opposed to putting a band-aid on the old jail and kicking the can down the road, is the most affordable option for the taxpayer. Our best estimate to date is the annualized cost of a new jail is less than half the cost of rehab. We can’t afford to spend $50 million to $70 million to extend the life of a dilapidated building for only 10 years or so when we could invest $70 million to $100 million in a modern facility with a useful life of 50 to 60 years.”

Previous studies completed in 2014 and 2019 indicate significant renovations are needed for the current facility which is also at capacity. As Sheriff Frank Leonbruno explained, “Since 1990 we have experienced a 250% growth in our jail population. Additionally, we need to address ADA compliance issues, flexible programming space deficiency, intake deficiency, and mental health treatment for nearly 70% of the jail population. The modern design can provide remote

access areas for court arraignments and other hearings for both municipal and courts of common of pleas. It will reduce law enforcement transports throughout the county, which keeps more municipal officers patrolling in their communities. After significant evaluation, based on experiential data, as well as two major studies on the current jail facility over the past five years, Lake County must begin the process of building a new adult detention facility.”

The Corrections Board also oversees the needs of correction services for the County. The Board puts extensive time studying the needs of the correction system to include the needs of the offender population, this may include the capacity to deliver services and programs to offenders either in custody or on community control.

Please click here to view the news release in pdf.