COLDWATER (WTVB) - Nearly a third of the inmates at the Branch County jail are females. Sheriff Warren Cannon yesterday briefed County Commissioners on some of the options under consideration to address the issue since the county lockup is designed to hold only around a dozen female prisoners. Cannon said one possibility would be re-arranging maximum security, where there are sixteen bunks, most of them unoccupied and make use of that space. He said one or two cells in the general population could then be freed up and after some security upgrades, be reserved for max, when needed. Commissioner John Houtz suggested checking with neighboring counties to find out if a prisoner switch might work, exchanging Branch County’s females for the other county’s male inmates. However, Cannon said St. Joseph County is dealing with the same situation as his department is handling while the Hillsdale County jail is just too small a facility to be considered. And Cannon said it’s likely to be a long term problem here since many of the female inmates have sentences that run out at least until the middle of 2013 or longer.
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