IRONTON, OH (WOWK) – Officials in Lawrence County are pushing to get a new jail. However, voters shut the idea down with more than half saying no on the May 3 ballot.

The Lawrence County Jail has been around for quite a while. Officials say a new one is desperately needed. People like Kim Gabbard, agree.

“It is very old. The people that work at the jail try very hard to keep it clean and to keep it painted and so forth, but it’s just so old it’s really hard to maintain,” Gabbard said.

Gabbard is an associate pastor and goes to the jail on Saturdays to minister to the inmates. She says it’s sad the people of Ironton struck down the new jail.  

“It made me really sad. I understand people are in jail because they’ve made bad decisions but they’re still some basic human needs that they should have and be treated like humans,” Gabbard said.

Local leaders wanted to use taxpayer dollars to pay for the new jail. Around 65% of the voters said no way.

“I just don’t see a need for it because I just know that money goes elsewhere in the county that it probably shouldn’t and instead of taking care of roads and public services and things like that, they’re focused on a new jail,” Chris Wells, Lawrence County resident said.

Lawrence County commissioners say they will regroup and come up with another plan but say it will likely be revoted on in the November general election. The state of Ohio also offered a one-time grant amount of $16.8 million to help pay for the new jail, but a new jail cost around $32,000,000.

“I just feel like it could be spent in better use and better areas,” Wells.

The new jail was supposed to be located outside Ironton limits on County Road 24.