COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - We first reported to you a week ago today that another Branch County jail overcrowding emergency had arrived and yesterday, Sheriff John Pollack made it official, declaring an overcrowding state of emergency pursuant to Public Act 325 of 1982. A news release from jail administrator Fred Blankenship said the inmate population has exceeded its rated design capacity of 142 for over thirteen consecutive days. This is the third overcrowding emergency in 2014, the others being in February and April. The first event in February saw the early release of 13 inmates who were granted sentence reductions.
An emergency requires the jail population be reduced to 90% of capacity. The April overcrowding was addressed without the need for sentence reductions. The courts have two weeks before they must take action. By the middle of April, the jail was less crowded with fewer arrests happening and the 90% rule had taken care of itself with a lower prisoner population.
Blankenship said a jail overcrowding certification was sent out last Wednesday, meaning that the jail was over capacity for 7 consecutive days. The Declaration is sent out a few days later after the certification to give court authorities an opportunity to see if the Sheriff’s Office was possibly in error regarding the jail count.