Isabella County Jail often over capacity
Editor’s note: This is the first story in a series about law enforcement in Isabella County.
Isabella County jail’s maximum capacity is 196 inmates, but typically it’s filled over that number.
Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski said usually the jail holds at least 10 inmates over capacity.
“The average is 207 or 208 inmates,” he said. “Most jails in Michigan have more than what they’re supposed to have.”
When the jail reaches capacity, there are further safety concerns to worry about. Mioduszewski said at one point the jail was up to 220 to 225 inmates.
However, according to the 2010 Isabella County Jail Population Information System, the average daily population was even higher, at 233 inmates, which adds risk.
“With more inmates placed in a cell, tempers are more easily flared, leading to arguing and fighting,” Mioduszewski said. “As numbers get higher it does cause problems for the jail itself. Whereas if they have their room, things don’t get so tense typically.”
With limited correction officers and a limited budget, Mioduszewski said monitoring inmates becomes difficult as well.
“We would love to have more correction officers, but budget doesn’t allow that,” he said. “What we do is ship inmates to other jails that have room.”
Compared to jails throughout the state, Mioduszewski said the Isabella County jail is average size, with jails to the north being typically smaller and jails to the south being typically larger.
Regardless, State Office Administrator Ken Brzozowski said not all jail capacity numbers reported are what they seem.
“There’s different things when you look at overcrowding,” he said. “Is it a capacity issue or how they are using the facility?”
He said some jails have a larger capacity than what they’re operating under because they can’t afford to open additional beds allotted.
About 75 to 80 percent of the inmate population is made up of Isabella County violators, Mioduszewski said. The other 20 to 25 bed spaces, the jail rents out to Westland and Livonia inmates, jailed for ordinance violations and misdemeanors.
“It’s lesser crimes that they commit,” Mioduszewski said. “We don’t house felons. A lot of time our public is concerned.”
Inmates who spend time in Isabella County from downstate average a 21-day stay. Aside from rented space, the majority of the jail is filled with those arrested in the county, many of which only stay eight to 10 hours, while others are there up to a year and a half.
“Anyone who is arrested and needs to go to jail on state or local charges will come here,” Mioduszewski said. “The only exception to that could be that if it is a federal law that is being violated, which is a small portion.”
The downstate rented bed space is making Isabella County money. This year, the county received just under $1 million for renting out space, which went into the county’s general fund, Mioduszewski said.
An additional $20,000 comes from the jail’s estimated booking fee income. Each inmate is charged a $12 booking fee ,and $2 goes to the state, the other $10 goes to training the jail’s correction officers.
Doing the math, it would seem as if that means the jail would house roughly 2,000 inmates each year. However, the number is much higher.
Mioduszewski said the jail averages 5,000 bookings a year. The estimated booking fee income is less than half of that because many inmates don’t have money on them when they’re arrested to pay the booking fee.
“Some don’t pay the booking fee because they don’t have money,” he said. “A lot of the people we deal with aren’t financially set.”
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