Managing occupancy in Genesee Co. jail

The Genesee County Sheriff and Prosecutor spoke about how occupancy is managed at the Genesee County jail when space is limited.
Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 6:28 PM EDT
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GENESEE CO., Mich. (WNEM) - The Genesee County Sheriff and Prosecutor spoke about how occupancy is managed at the Genesee County jail.

“Everybody’s there to keep that population moving. Because we want to always have space. And I’m required to take in certain people. But we manage jail occupancy,” said Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson.

Swanson said as of Monday, April 24, there are 598 people in custody at the jail. Five percent are serving their sentences there. The other 95 percent have their cases working their way through the justice system. Swanson said 60 percent of that population is facing anywhere from 20 years to life if convicted.

Swanson said many densely populated areas across the state like Genesee County utilize GPS tethers.

“I have over 200 people on tether right now in the Genesee County area, that are being monitored, that could be in jail. And then if that was the case, our jail population would be 800. But at least at this point, they’re being GPS monitored, they’re being alcohol monitored, and we know their location,” Swanson said.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said the lack of jail space can create challenges.

“The District judges, who can only sentence to jail and not to prison, are really in a fix because they really have so few beds available, they can’t really put anybody in the jail. So, they have to just give probation, or as you suggest, house arrest with a tether,” Leyton said.

Swanson was quick to point out there is always room in jail for those who need to be there. When asked if he would like to see a bigger jail, he scoffed at that notion.

“I have no interest in building a bigger jail. I have an interest in people never coming to jail. Which is the reason why we’re doing what we’re doing. Knowing that there will always be those that victimize the innocent and there’s got to be a place for them. But if you look at the amount of people we have in jails, if we can keep them from breaking the law and use our diversion, just putting people in a cell at $32 to $47 a day is not always the answer. It’s an answer, but not always the answer,” Swanson said.

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