Jail population exceeds old capacity

Marion County’s new jail has several times this year exceeded the official capacity of its old jail, as determined by the state fire marshal.

The average daily number of inmates for the first six months of 2013 was up about one from the same time in 2012.

However, the population can fluctuate quickly, Sheriff Rob Craft said Monday. Depending on new arrests and inmates bonding out, the number can swing between eight and 16 in just a few days.

“There is a lot of come-and-go,” Craft said. “They’re here for a day or two, whatever it takes to bond out, then they’re gone.”

A day can begin and end with 12 inmates, but as many as four of them might be different at the end of the day. The fewest the new jail has held was seven inmates. The highest populations have been 18 or 19 inmates — more than the capacity of the old jail as determined by the state fire marshal.

The jail has 34 beds, but it would require unusual circumstances to fill it. Work-release and women’s segments would have to be exactly full, for example.

Most days, the jail has two or three women. The segment of the jail for women has eight beds. When the jail was designed, the county had as many as seven women inmates.

“That’s a rarity, but I have to account for rarities,” Craft said.

The jail also has a work-release segment, but work-release inmates are mostly doing meal preparation, laundry, and cleaning at the jail, rather than working outside it.

Craft said the “pod” system in the new jail allows jailers to do a better job of separating inmates who are unruly.

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