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Expansion Of Justice Center's Treatment Unit Nearly Ready To Begin

An artist rendering of one of the new treatment pods at the jail.
Courtesy of Hamilton County
An artist rendering of one of the new treatment pods at the jail.

Hamilton County commissioners this week will officially accept a state grant to renovate space within the Justice Center, creating 92 treatment beds.The board applied for the grant in Nov. 2017 and was notified in May 2018 the project would be awarded $2.5 million.

The plan calls for repurposing spaces in the North and South buildings to create two treatment pods with dormitory-style living and sleeping space along with restroom and shower facilities. Also included in the plans are state-of-the-art guard posts and updated electrical and mechanical systems.

"It's set up like a dorm so that people can interact with one another," explains Commission President Denise Driehaus. "It's cheaper to staff and there's a lot of peer-to-peer support going on and a lot of other things going on because it's a supportive setting for people that are in recovery. That's what is so unique and special about this space."

Built to hold 875 people, the jail routinely houses more than 1,500. The idea behind the treatment pods is to open up more space for hardened criminals and get help to people dealing with addiction issues, with a goal of reducing recidivism rates.

Bidding on the project opens next month with construction slated to begin in May and wrap up by the end of the year.

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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.