ESCANABA — Delta County Sheriff Ed Oswald says something has to be done to alleviate the pressure on county jails as the state prison population declines and prisons are closed.
The state Department of Corrections has announced that they are closing the Ojibway Correctional Facility in Marenisco in the western Upper Peninsula. The closure was required by the state legislature in its current budget.
Delta County is building a new jail to better handle a growing population but Oswald said the types of crimes jail inmates now commit are more serious than years ago.
“So, even though our crime is going up the state’s prison population is at an all-time low. They just don’t see it. It’s the state budget that they are looking at. And our county is looking at the county budget. But the state seems to be balancing their budget on the backs of the counties,” Oswald said.
The number of inmates that the Delta County Jail will be able to handle when it opens next year will nearly double the current capacity.
Oswald and his staff were instrumental in the design of new facility. Oswald said feaures they stressed was providing natural light without being able to see outside and the abilities for deputies to move around the jail quickly.
“When you look at this, you think that there’s a lot of hallways but one hallway has bookings off of it and also the main hallway. We toured at a lot of facilities and this is the cleanest laid out facility i’ve seen and that’s what we wanted,” he said.
Oswald gave a tour of the construction to county commissioners and officials of the jail and new Sheriff’s office.