Twinsburg has operated a city jail for at least 33 years, but starting in January, it will send its prisoners to Solon.
Police Chief Chris Noga said a three-year contract with Twinsburg’s neighbor to the north will cost $85,200 a year, a substantial savings from the $152,000 it costs the city annually to operate its own 10-cell jail.
The Twinsburg City Council has approved the contract.
“It got to the point where we started thinking there is a better option for us to be more efficient,” Noga said.
That “thinking” started this year when the city asked Solon to take prisoners with special needs or medical conditions.
Twinsburg’s jail keeps prisoners for a maximum of 12 days. There are eight cells for men, two for women, and the city averages about two prisoners a day. Solon’s jail can handle 26 prisoners at a time.
“Sometimes we get prisoners that are hard for us to manage because we only have part-time jailers during the day,” Noga said. “So if we have, say, a diabetic prisoner, they have full services [in Solon] and full-time corrections officers. Also, they can keep people up to a year.”
During that process, Twinsburg started thinking about the costs involved with the jail in general. It never had been separated from the police department’s budget, so it took some analyzing, but once labor, meals, supplies and other costs were calculated, it became clear the city was spending $152,000 a year.
Solon offered to handle the prisoners for far less.
Noga said it also frees officers to spend more time on the street. Where arresting officers previously spent up to two hours booking a prisoner, now they can drive to Solon — about 10 minutes from the police station — and leave most of the processing to personnel there.
“That officer can be back on the road in five minutes patrolling again,” Noga said.
There are three part-time officers who will see their hours reduced as a result of the change. They will still be needed for other duties, such as taking evidence to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Richfield or running errands to the courthouse.
Noga said the three affected personnel all have jobs elsewhere and “they never covered all the hours I budgeted for them anyhow.”
Twinsburg has contracts with Reminderville and Sagamore Hills to hold prisoners they pick up on bench warrants for Stow Municipal Court. Those communities will be notified to make other arrangements.
Noga guessed that Twinsburg books maybe eight prisoners a year for Reminderville, and only two prisoners for Sagamore Hills over the past three years.
The Twinsburg jail, which opened when the police building was constructed in 1979, probably will continue to be used as a holding cell for motorists picked up on DUI charges. In many of those cases, the person is held only until he or she can be released to a sober driver.
Noga said he sat down with administrators at the municipal court to discuss the city’s plans in October.
“The nice thing is the judges were limited in their sentencing to 12 days, but now if they want to ship someone away for 60 days” the Solon jail can handle it, he said.