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Branch County Jail overcrowding emergency barely averted this week

COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - Branch County has just barely escaped its second jail overcrowding emergency of 2014 and it’s not even the end of March. Last month, 13 inmates were granted sentence reductions and released early when the courts declared the emergency after the lockup had 7 straight days when the prisoner population had exceeded its rated capacity of 142.

Wednesday ended with 146 inmates behind bars and it appeared to be the seventh day in-a-row for an overcapacity situation. However, even though the booking sheet released to the media for Tuesday indicated 143 was the inmate count, it turned out to actually be 142, right on the bubble. The devil is in the details, as they say. The official inmate count for the record is taken each morning at 1 a.m. and the booking sheet that goes out to the media is generally e-mailed shortly before or after midnight. That’s how the discrepancy developed this week. Either way, most county officials  agree it’s only a matter of time before the next overcrowding emergency happens this spring. 

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