INGHAM COUNTY– Wayne County and the Michigan Department of Corrections dropped out of a deal that was made with Ingham County which is going to leave Ingham in a financial deficit.
Ingham County had signed contracts to take 50 inmates each from Wayne County and the Michigan Department of Corrections and house them for $6,750 per day. Inmates were supposed to arrive on March 1, but now both partners have dropped out of the contract and will not be sending any inmates.
MDOC public information officer Chris Gautz said, “We were looking to remove ourselves from this program. This is something that was created a few years ago and there were a lot of issues with it and so as far as our budget agreement it was recommended for removal so that we no longer had to participate in it and so now it’s no longer part of the state budget. The biggest issue is that our focus is offender success, so our mission is to educate prisoners. Most county jails don’t have any educational programs, so the prisoners don’t really benefit by being there.”
A benefit of keeping inmates in their local county is keeping them closer to their families. Defense Attorney Lucas Dillon said, “One of the biggest requests I get on the sentencing date is the request for my client to be housed close to their family, because that’s where they visit, that’s where the family can come and put money in their commissary and whatnot. If they can’t see those people, life’s going to be real hard for them on the inside.”
On April 24, Wayne County said that they probably will no longer be participating in the contract.
Wayne County director of administration Sue Hall said, “We were moving forward with the contract with Ingham County and then we started to analyze our capacity in our facility. We made a determination that we really don’t need any more beds, so I don’t think we will be sending inmates over any longer.”
Before Wayne County dropped out, Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said, “I’m guessing Wayne County is a very large county and difficult to deal with, and a lot of checks and balances and for whatever reason we still don’t have their prisoners, which is putting me in a trick bag because that’s money that the county has counted as revenue that we’re not getting.”
Ingham County had budgeted revenue of $1.3 million to house these inmates and as of April 7 there is already a budget deficit of nearly $90,000 in the county.
Ingham County Deputy controller Teri Morton said, “soon we’re going to have to make a budget adjustment. So, I’m not sure what that will be. We’ll have to work with the sheriff and the board of commissioners to decide that. Since those beds aren’t being filled we could close a post of the jail, possibly, and then that would make up some of the cost. That would be an option though. I’m not saying that’s what we’re going to do so really within the next couple of weeks if we don’t get those beds we’re going to have to start coming up with a plan.”
Ingham County is currently brainstorming new ways to make up for the loss of money. They are hoping to find a solution that replaces the money so that no one in the county has to be laid off.