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Lancaster Jail Overcrowded, Fails To Meet State Standards

The most recent state inspection reports show the Fairfield County jail system often holds twice its maximum number of inmates and doesn't meet minimum standards. Overcrowding is the primary reason the Fairfield County jail hasn't passed a state inspection in 25 years. The newspaper says the problem worsens as more people are sent to jail instead of prison under changes in state sentencing laws. Sheriff Dave Phalen says the three jail buildings in Lancaster should hold up to 133 inmates but regularly hold about double that number. Phalen says he expects the county will continue violating standards until it creates a new jail, which has been discussed for years. Local officials are considering using casino-revenue payments to the county to help fund a jail.