COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - Overcrowding is an issue that is never very far away for the Branch County jail. An emergency was declared in the middle of July when 13 inmates had their sentences reduced for early release to get the lockup down to 90 percent of its rated capacity of 142. Since September 23rd, when the prisoner population peaked at 149, it’s been at or over 142 every day, expect the 27th, when it dipped to 141. Today, it’s back up to 148 and when it’s overcrowded for 7 straight days, the courts are notified and an emergency declaration usually follows. The number of female inmates remains very high with today’s count at 40.
Last month, the Sheriff’s Department relocated the cell area for the women prisoners, who were being double bunked with some sleeping on floor mats. The original jail design was drawn up to accommodate only around a dozen female inmates.