EagleHerald Staff Writer
MARINETTE—The Marinette County jail inmate population has reached record levels, according to a Tuesday report from Marinette County Jail Administrator Bob Majewski.
Numbers collected by the Sheriff’s Office indicate that the daily population average for September was almost 145 individuals, the highest it has been for that month since Majewski became the county jail administrator in 2004. Of those 145 inmates, an average of about 131 individuals were in-house at the county jail, six were kept in the Oconto or Florence County jails and eight were on electronic or home monitor.
There were 158 inmates as of Tuesday afternoon when Majewski gave his report during the Public Services Committee meeting. Although the jail’s capacity is 164 beds, Majewski said that it’s difficult to take in this many individuals because of requirements for male and female separation and accommodating inmates with special needs.
The Sheriff’s Office has moved eight female inmates to the Oconto County jail and seven inmates to the Florence County jail, according to Majewski. He said that one of the seven inmates in Florence County should have been released earlier this month.
Majewski said he tries to maintain a cushion of available beds at the county jail by moving some inmates to Oconto and Florence counties to avoid a “scramble” should there be a sudden influx of inmates. Those who are moved outside of Marinette County are inmates who have already been sentenced, have a long wait period before their court date or have a release date.
According to records from the Sheriff’s Office, there was about a 61% increase in the daily average inmate population from 70 to about 113 individuals between 2004 and 2005 for the month of September.
Majewski theorized this spike could be related to the relocation of the county jail in 2004. “If you build it, they’ll come,” he said. “Maybe there was a population that should have spent time in jail, but because we didn’t have room for that, they didn’t.” A high inmate population has been an issue that the jail has had to contend with on and off for years since then.
Recently, Majewski said most arrests have been for drug-related offenses with methamphetamine being the most prevalent drug. He also noted that the female inmate population has grown since he has been the county jail administrator.
The problem of overcrowding in the jail is compounded with a staff shortage; Majewski said the jail staff is currently down two officers with an additional officer still in training.