ESCANABA — Voters in Delta County declined the proposal to build a new jail last spring by an extremely slim margin, but hopes for an updated facility haven’t been dashed quite yet.
A select few got a rare chance Wednesday to see the inside of the aging Delta County Jail in Escanaba. The trip allowed visitors to see just what Sheriff’s deputies and inmates alike deal with on a daily basis prior to a new jail proposal hitting ballots in November.
“We’re asking people to vote to build a new jail. We’re looking for a bond. So if we bring people into the facility, they can see what we’re working with at this time, and then they can make an educated decision,” said Delta County Sheriff Ed Oswald.
The new proposal reduces the originally planned capacity by 24 inmates, which Sheriff Oswald said will knock a couple million dollars off the previous plan while still helping to stem the problem of overcrowding and subsequent early release. He added that additional space in the new facility would allow staff to provide programming for inmates.
“It’s like somebody you work with every day of the week,” added Sheriff Oswald. “They’re with them. They know which ones they can get to. If we can get those [inmates] into some type of programming to help them with their problem, I think that’s a step in the right direction.”
Sheriff Oswald hopes the plan — which also allows for expandability in the future — will provide an adequate facility for the next fifty years.