The Barry County Jail’s capacity is 98 inmates. It is now at 102. Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said 82 inmates is a safer number of offenders to manage because it allows moving inmates around if is required.For now, they will house only those accused of serious felonies, domestic violence or highly intoxicated, he said.
Leaf will inform county judges of the overflow if it lasts more than five days and seek solutions.
If an emergency is declared, Leaf said the inmate population will be reduced by releasing some low level offenders and those near their release date. “There’s quite a lot to it. Judges have a lot to say about it,” he said.
The jail was overcrowded for several months in 2013-2014. At that time, the jail inmate count was at 95 percent of capacity for more than five days. As long as the inmates basic needs are met, the state doesn’t get involved, Leaf said then, but he had to release some inmates early or house them somewhere else.
Leaf notified other police jurisdictions in the county, advising them to bring in those with less serious offenses, “take their photos and fingerprints, get them into the system, and release them on personal recognizance bonds.”
Also, inmates were housed in Eaton and Calhoun county jails to ease overcrowding, leaving Barry County Commissioners to find the funds to pay the additional bills.