With jail overcrowding being no secret for the Madison County Detention Center, Jailer Steve Tussey is looking for an immediate fix by setting a maximum number of inmates that the jail will house at 450 people.
Recently, the county jailer sent a letter to the Department of Corrections Commission explaining the overcrowding condition at the jail and set a number not to exceed 450 inmates and if reached, he could possibly close the jail temporarily until the number of inmates housed decreases.
Tussey said that although he had sent a letter, the procedure is essentially “already in affect.”
He attributed the ongoing and worsening issue of overcrowding in the jail on East Irvine Street in downtown Richmond as to why he sent the letter.
“Physically you can only put so many people in a space, and we are quickly approaching that number,” he said Thursday in an interview with The Register.
If he were forced to close the jail, Tussey said that inmates that would be booked in and housed in other counties, a method the jail is no stranger to utilizing.
“We are doing that almost daily,” Tussey said.
Depending on the county in which an MCDC inmate is temporarily housed, the cost to house them can range from $28 to $40 per inmate per day, with an average of $30, according to Tussey.
Estimated per year, the county would pay about $1 million to house 100 inmates in other counties, not including the cost of health care or deputy wages, to which the county is still responsible for paying.
"So far my only option has been … sending someone out somewhere. I am running out of that option, because the other jails have the same problem that we have," he said to the fiscal court in a July meeting. "I am going farther and farther to find bed space in counties."
MCDC has housed inmates as far as Fulton County, which touches the Mississippi River, accounting for a five-hour drive each way.
According to Tussey, this is a short-term fix to try to help remedy this issue.
“There’s lots of options. This is just an immediate one,” he said. “A new jail, expand the jail, temporary housing arrangements — the list goes on and on of things that could help, but this is an immediate, short-term fix.
As of Thursday afternoon, the jailer reported 415 inmates were being housed at the detention center with an authorized bed count of only 184 beds.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.