Jail population averages below capacity for second consecutive month

The Jackson County Jail’s inmate population in December was below capacity for the second consecutive month, according to a report released by the sheriff’s department.

The average daily inmate count was 236 during the month of December, which falls below the jail’s 248 capacity.

It follows November’s report of 243, which was the first time in more than six years since the average count fell below capacity. The jail had as few 225 inmates and even the highest daily count was still below capacity at 247.

Falling under capacity is driven by the county’s decision to close the Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center earlier this year to provide more space. The move added 56 beds and a separate pod for female inmates to raise capacity from 172 to 248.

The state is expected to certify another 20 beds soon to increase capacity to 268.

Police also have arrested fewer people, according to the department’s report. In December, local agencies arrested 157 people, which represents the fourth lowest monthly total in 2018. The highest figure for the year was in February when 219 were arrested, and the lowest was in November at 139.

Officials had long expressed concern for overcrowding at the jail, knowing it could have exposed the county to lawsuit. It’s not just a problem in Jackson County as many counties faces overcrowding issues.

The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette reported in October that more than 40 jails were overcrowded across the state. Some counties have addressed overcrowding by constructing new jails.

Jennings County officials approved the construction of a $28 million jail last fall to address overcrowding concerns.

Sheriff Rick Meyer — who took office last week — said it was great the population continues to be below capacity.

“Overcrowding brings more problems that we don’t have to deal with right now,” he said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”By the numbers” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Inmate population daily average by month in 2018.

*Note the pod for the Juvenile Detention Center became available to the jail population in May.

Month; average population; capacity percentage

January; 246; 143

February; 250; 145

March; 248; 144

April; 255; 148

May; 268; 118

June; 267; 117

July; 273; 120

August; 272; 110

September; 268; 108

October; 266; 107

November; 243; 98

December; 236; 95

According to jail reports provided by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.