Overcrowded and understaffed Hamilton County jail leaves inmates without basic necessities

Subjects sit along the wall and lay on the floor as they wait to be assigned a cell upstairs at the Hamilton County Jail. Jail officials are currently seeking ways to alleviate overcrowding, which has been a problem for several years.
photo A jail officer passes out toothbrushes on Wednesday. Photo by Matt Lea

Too many

The average daily population at the Hamilton County Jail exceeds the facility’s maximum rated capacity of 505 inmates.› 2015: 565 › 2014: 552› 2013: 505› 2012: 518› 2011: 516› 2010: 608Source: Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office

Hamilton County Jail Critical Incidents, 2014

Use of force reports by staff: 212Assault, offender on offender: 120Suicide attempts: 59Assault, offender on staff: 31Suicides: 2Offender medical referral: 2Natural death: 1Lockdown: 0Escapes: 04/5 point restraints used: 0Source: Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office 2014 Annual Report


Inmates booked: 20,216Inmates released: 16,643Inmates escorted to courts: 11,040Source: Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office 2014 Annual Report

As Chief of Corrections Joe Fowler walked through the first floor of the Hamilton County Jail on Wednesday, the men in the crowded cells rushed to bang on the doors.