FOX 66 News at Ten
The Genesee County jail is overbooked.
Inmates in orange jump suits stared out the windows in hopes that means they will soon be getting their marching papers.
"You sleep on the ground or a bench with no blanket, it's freezing, freezing at night, hot in the day, it's just yeah, it's bad," said one man released Wednesday afternoon who didn't want to be identified.
The man was convicted on drug charges and ended up in the slammer because he broke probation. Because of overcrowding inside, he was released.
"This jail was established for 580 people, that was for maximum capacity, our today's count right now is 703, and these are folks that are just packed into cells and there's standing room only by all means," said Genesee County Undersheriff Chris Swanson.
Swanson said the overcrowding has caused a jail emergency and state law requires the sheriff's office to do something about it.
"We're required to reduce our population down by about 95 percent max capacity, which is about 175 inmates we have to release," explained Swanson.
On Tuesday the county began showing some inmates the door. The undersheriff said those who have served 85 percent of their term or those who have a $5,000 bond are the first to be let out. Then it will be up to the county's chief judge to decide who else will get to leave.
For the man let out today, he said he is literally breathing a sigh of relief.
"It's like a dog kennel, it's like a dog kennel, with 200 plus pound dogs, that's exactly what it is, there's no beds for them, you get fed just a couple means a day, you get to go to the bathroom, that's about it, but no showers."
But there are some who aren't too keen about this.
"As a citizen, that's a big concern to me, 175, that's a lot of people," said Flint resident Crystal Demps.
But Swanson said the public should be assured the violent offenders will not be going anywhere.
"The public has nothing to be concerned about, and nothing changes on a day to day basis, it's good management, it's the sheriff following what the law has required us to follow," Swanson said.
The Genesee County Sheriff's Office will ask surrounding counties if they have room to help with the jail emergency.
For the inmates who must be released, Swanson said they'll likely be on probation or be required to wear a tether.
The sheriff said one thing that can help is when the Flint City Lock-up opens. That's supposed to happen at the end of September or the start of October.
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Thursday, September 20 2012, 08:53 AM EDT
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