Bulter County Jail Several structures have housed the county jail. The first was in what had been part of Fort Hamilton. "The old building which had been the magazine of the fort was used as a jail," said the Atlas Map of Butler County 1875 by L. H. Everts. "It stood in the south angle of the fort, about where the United Presbyterian Church now is (1875). It was some 15 feet square, constructed of heavy logs, hewed square and laid close together, with a floor and ceiling hewed and laid in the same manner." The 1875 account said "a hipped roof came to a point in the center, where it was surmounted by a round ball of wood. The door was of heavy two-inch oak plank and driven full of iron spikes and nails, with a hole in the center, in the shape of a half-moon, for the admission of light, air and food for the occupants.
Standing isolated, it was, of course, very insecure and escapes were almost as frequent as commitments," the atlas observed.
A new jail was authorized by county leaders Sept. 30, 1805, with John Torrence and John Wingate winning the contract to build it on the south side of the public square (now the courthouse square between High, Front, Court and South Second streets in Hamilton). "It was to be of stone, 33 by 20 feet in size, two stories high," according to 1875 atlas. The $1,600 building -- mostly of stone taken from the Great Miami River -- was completed by Sept. 1, 1806, per the contract, but the interior wasn't finished until December 1808. An adjacent building to house a jailer and his family was completed in 1810. It, too, was insecure and susceptible to escape, said the 1875 atlas.
The third jail, erected on the south side of Court Street, in the middle of the block opposite the public square, was built by Alexander P. Miller of Fairfield Township, who was awarded the contract March 4, 1846. It was much larger than its predecessors, measuring 86 by 48.5 feet The two-story $18,000 building -- that was supposed to cost $8,581 before additions and alterations -- was occupied Aug. 9, 1848, and the old jail was sold for $194 at public auction to Robert E. Duffield who demolished it and removed the stone. Two men, both convicted of first-degree murder, were hanged on temporary scaffolds erected in the southeast corner of the jail yard, one for a Hamilton saloon murder in July 1869 and another for killing his mother near Millville in June 1885.
The fourth jail, a $1.323 million structure, was built to house 157 prisoners, more than three times the capacity of the 1848 structure. It was completed in 1970. It was built behind the 1848 jail, which was razed after completion of the new unit. The fifth jail -- part of the Butler County Sheriff's Office Operational Headquarters and Correctional Center -- was dedicated June 21, 2002. The $37 million 290,000 square foot complex at 705 Hanover Street, Hamilton, has a capacity of 800 prisoners. The sheriff's administrative offices had been at 301 South Third Street, in a former post office building, for several years.