Jail explains after sink stink

A couple weeks ago in this space we suggested that Trumbull County officials should provide an explanation to taxpayers on why they must pay for new sinks in the jail.

They have since provided the public with an explanation, and a good one.

Commissioners last month spent $5,524 to purchase eight stainless steel sinks to replace ones damaged by inmates purposely clogging and overflowing them. We questioned why this was necessary since the jail was constructed with high-tech plumbing to help deputies deal with inmates who are abusive, perhaps because of mental health issues.

The high-tech plumbing was included in the four-story tower that houses the jail’s general population. All the pods and cells are connected to a central control area where water, toilets and lights can be managed with the flip of a switch.

The facility was also built with a misdemeanor section to house 96 low-level, non-violent offenders. That section, not built with the techno-plumbing, has since been turned into temporary housing for felons to handle an influx of inmates after the state began reducing its prison population.

The minimum-security set-up, with porcelain sinks and laminate counters, did not weather well under the new class of inmates. Commissioner Frank Fuda responded quickly when jail officials raised the issue. The new sinks should prevent water damage that, in the long run, could cost taxpayers much more.

It’s the second time Fuda addressed a water problem at the jail. Water bills there dropped by about $48,000 per year beginning in 2010 because Fuda and other officials stepped in when they discovered that inmates would keep water running to ensure that it’s warm when needed.