Isabella County is projecting a $500,000 decline in revenue for fiscal year 2014 as contracts between Isabella County Jail and two Wayne County prisons are in talks of ending, due to overcrowding at the facilities.
A 20-year agreement between the Isabella County Sheriff’s Department and jails located in Livonia and Westland required that overflow inmates be sent to Isabella and transported to other mid-Michigan institutions.
According to Interim Isabella County Administrator Donna Barker, the county will compensate for the funding reduction by saving money in transportation of the inmates and by reducing funding for public services such as road patrols.
“The contracts forced us into taking their inmates, regardless of our space,” she said. “We’ll be able to be more selective about how many inmates we take in. We’ll be able to optimize our currents funds and can choose to accept other inmates.”
Barker said the Isabella County Jail has recently seen an influx in population, and that by ending the contracts, greater flexibility will be afforded to the county.
Despite contracts being dropped, Barker said Isabella will still be looking to take in inmates from other counties on a “space-available basis.”
“This situation is caused by an increase in local inmate population,” she said. “It’s just been a steady increase. As the population increases, you’ll usually see an increase in inmate population as well.”
According to Barker, Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski asked the board of commissioners for support in not signing the contracts for another year. Although he has yet to make a formal decision, Barker said she has been planning next year’s budget under the assumption that the contracts will not be renewed.
Barker could not say if the reduction will be short or long-term.
“If it’s a short-term reduction, we can often compensate using our reserve funds,” she said. “If it’s a long-term reduction, we’ll have to make layoffs and cut services.”
Mioduszewski said the ICSD has recently been struggling to find space for overflow inmates from the other jails. The Isabella County Sheriff said the jail has been overcrowded for six months.
“We are having problems finding space for overflow populations,” he said. “It’s becoming difficult. We can’t find other jails that have bed space.”
Although Isabella County Jail hosts proper bed space for 196 inmates, Mioduszewski said the average daily population is 213. He estimated that ISCD has been housing 22 inmates per day in other jails.
Mioduszewski explained that the overflow has been sent to jails in Midland, Clare, Gladwin and Clinton. While those jails have also become overcrowded, the binding contract with Livonia and Westland has seen reductions in revenue over the years.
Wayne County jails, he said, do not take in one-year misdemeanor offenders because they too are overcrowded.
“No decisions have been made yet,” Mioduszewski said. “But I did put the commissioner on notice.”