Jail inmates released due to overcrowding

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published June 18, 2015

 A little more than 100 inmates had to be released early from the Macomb County Jail recently due to overcrowding.

A little more than 100 inmates had to be released early from the Macomb County Jail recently due to overcrowding.

File photo by Julie Snyder

MOUNT CLEMENS — Dozens of prisoners at the Macomb County Jail were released the evening of June 17 and the morning of June 18 due to overcrowding, sheriff’s officials reported.

According to Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, an overcrowding state of emergency was declared on June 2 after the jail population exceeded the rated design capacity (RDC).

After doing so, he notified county officials, judges and local police chiefs that “due to current overcrowded conditions in the (Macomb) County Jail, and in order to comply with (state law), the prisoner population must be reduced.”

State law requires that when the county jail exceeds 100 percent of its RDC for seven consecutive days, the sheriff must certify the fact to the chief circuit court judge.

The RDC of the Macomb County Jail is 1,218, and the jail population needs to be reduced to 1,193 prisoners, or 25 beds below the RDC, Wickersham said. He said the population was well over 1,250 inmates at the time of the declaration, and there were no reductions in the population during the 15-day window.

“There has been some confusion about this because this is the 15th day since the declaration,” Wickersham said the afternoon of June 17. “On the 15th day, the chief circuit court judge declares how many and which inmates will be released.”

Chief Judge James Biernat Jr. sent a letter to Wickersham approving the release of certain sentenced and unsentenced prisoners. Specifically, Biernat ordered the release of prisoners who have not been charged or convicted of “a violent or assaultive crime, a sex offense, breaking or entering, drug dealing, or any other major felony.”

For sentenced prisoners whose names were on the list, the judge ordered a maximum sentence reduction of 25 percent. For other unsentenced prisoners, Biernat allowed for their release on personal recognizance bonds.

Wickersham reports that his office has released 104 prisoners June 17 and 18 to ease overcrowding at the Macomb County Jail.

According to Wickersham, this latest overcrowding state of emergency is the 15th declaration since 2003.

The last was in November 2014, when 71 prisoners were released.

The Macomb County Jail, located on Elizabeth in Mount Clemens, holds individuals charged with felonies or probation violations and those serving a jail sentence of one year or less. It at one time had a 200-capacity annex, but that was shut down by then-Sheriff Mark Hackel in 2009. The action allowed Hackel, who is now the Macomb County executive, to save the county $4.5 million.

The current jail was built in 1954. The first expansion was in 1968, followed by additional expansions in 1978, 1981, 1987, 1992 and 1999, the year the annex was completed.