Commissioner asks for support of jail

Commissioner asks for support of jail

Letter to the Editor:

Wayne County is facing a critical public-safety issue. Our 40-year-old jail is undersized and overcrowded, causing safety concerns for the general public, law enforcement and the inmates.

Our current jail houses 120 inmates, but we average between 140-165 inmates with 20-40 of those being housed out of county. Each day our judges receive a list to see if there is someone they can release early from jail to make room for another inmate. 

Wayne County does an excellent job with alternative sentencing, giving opportunities for those in the court system to improve their lives. Wayne County has over 1,600 individuals on some type of community control or home arrest. 

Jail is a part of the justice system, and in order for justice to be served in Wayne County, our judges need that option for individuals that do not respond to alternative sentencing and for violent offenders.

Wayne County cannot build more beds in the current justice center. Our current 120 beds are grandfathered in as our jail does not meet current standards. If we added more beds, that grandfather status would be revoked, and we would actually house fewer beds than we have now.

The plans are to build a new jail next to the current justice center with a 240-bed capacity.  We will then renovate the current justice center for the jail auxiliary services, the sheriff, emergency management, and eventually Juvenile and Probate Court.

To fund this jail expansion and renovation, we are asking you to vote for a small increase in sales tax, three-tenths of 1 percent, which is 3 cents on a $10 purchase. The sales tax rate in Wayne County is 6.5 percent. After this increase it would be 6.8 percent, still lower than 68 other counties.

Wayne County has not asked the public for any sales tax increase since 1992. Currently Wayne County receives three-fourths of 1 percent of the sales tax. The rest goes to the state.

Please help Wayne County remain a safe place to raise your family. Vote yes on the proposed sales and use tax.

Ann M. Obrecht, Wayne County commissioner

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