Sheriff limiting jail population in response to low staffing - WNEM TV 5

Sheriff limiting jail population in response to low staffing

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"By dropping the inmate population down, we've been able to at least come closer to meeting those administrative rules," said Sheriff Scott Stevenson.

But dropping the population of Litchfield Jail in Midland County, also means dropping the revenue for the county.

Stevenson feels his jail is in violation of state law and there's only two options: get more staff or drop the population.

In October, the jail had nearly 260 inmates. That population was comprised of local inmates, one from the Michigan Department of Corrections as well as federal inmates. Stevenson said he’s been turning away new inmates from MDOC which means the county is losing money.

In November, two jail house brawls occurred in two days.

The sheriff said those fights are a stark reminder of the dangers his deputies face.

“If you have more deputies in there, we could have diffused that situation before it became an issue,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson said his jail is well below staffing levels across the state.

"When you compare the jail bed capacity of jails and the amount of full time corrections staff, we are well below average in the state of Michigan," Stevenson said.

According to data collected by the Michigan Sheriff's Association Litchfield Jail in Midland is near the bottom of the list in terms of the ratio of inmates to corrections officers. The state wide average is around 6 to 1. At Litchfield, that ratio is closer to ten inmates for every corrections officer.

Commissioner Scott Noesen said about jail staffing:

"We are currently addressing the sheriff's concern about staffing by conducting a study of the jail. But at this time we feel that study must be reviewed by all before a decision is made. But the safety of inmates and deputies remains a top priority."

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