News from Your Sheriff
Welcome to summertime Clare County. We currently have 90 inmates in our jail which consist of 44 local, 6 Diverted Felon, 8 MDOC, and 32 Federal. Our numbers remain low due mostly because the courts haven’t been in session since the Covid virus hit. Our courts are slowly opening back up, doing most of the court business on Zoom. We have people who are currently in our jail that have been sentenced to go to prison but the prisons in Michigan are not excepting new inmates at this time. We are told that the first part of July that MDOC will start accepting inmates.
We are in the process of preparing for our 2020-2021 budget for the county. Last year we made significant cuts in order to come within the margin the Commissioners needed us to. This year we are trying to stay within the numbers from last year’s budget. With everything that has occurred with the COVID-19 virus, we are uncertain about revenue sharing coming in from the state and how that will impact the overall county budget. Our revenues come from many different sources on the county level. Next to the tax revenue, the jail revenue is the largest for the county. A couple of years a go there were some questions whether the jail was actually making money for the county or not. The Board of Commissioners had an independent study done on the jail with the study showing that there is a $300,000 to $500,000 overall revenue every year, which is above all cost for operating the jail. This has resulted in several millions of dollars that have come into the county general fund over the last decade.
When I first started in the 1980s, our jail capacity was 20. An addition was completed in the late ’80s which expanded the capacity to 60. In the late 1990s, another addition was completed on the jail bringing our capacity up to 178. Each time an addition was completed, it was paid for by renting out space to other agencies in this state. When I was elected for my first term as sheriff in 2009, we had a little bit more to pay off on the last addition. Once the last addition was paid in full, that full amount was rolled into the county general fund. We have no plans to add more space onto the jail.
One of the main things we have to look at all of the time is the current condition of our infrastructure, building, roof, parking lots, heating and cooling units, and the list goes on. A few years ago, the county did a bond in order to fix the courthouse parking lot, replace several roof top heating and cooling units, and other structural items that needed to be repaired. What we have done at the Sheriff Office is to maintain a level of funds for unforeseen repairs and other costs that may pop up during the year on the jail. We are able to build up this fund from a percentage we get from our commissary fund. The commissary fund comes from the sale of items that inmates can purchase while incarcerated in our jail.
Please take a little extra time during the approaching holiday weekend. We would like to wish everyone a safe and Happy 4th of July.
GOD Bless America.
Sheriff John S Wilson