Judge: Wayne County Jail conditions 'inhumane,' more money needed

 The Wayne County Jail project has been a massive problem - but a more pressing issue is the existing jail's conditions.

Wayne County Jail conditions have been called "inhumane" by a judge who says more money is required to improve the conditions.

"If a person (gets) locked up, I understand you do wrong, but at least treat a person like a human being," said John Taylor, who spent six months there and knows the conditions.

Now, the presiding judge of the criminal division of the Wayne County Circuit, Timothy Kenny agrees. In a 39-page opinion, Kenny found an infestation of insects and rodents and drain flies in the shower. That same shower is where 20 inmates share the same stall that's the size of a phone booth. 

Sheriff Benny Napoleon knows the problems are real.

"I have a county executive who is working cooperatively with me to try and resolve these issues," Napoleon said. 

Years ago, an agreement was reached on jail conditions. That was assuming the average jail population was 1,776 prisoners. Today, there are 2,200 inmates plus 600 on tether. How do you manage 2,800 in the jail?

"I have to work it out with the current CEO," Napoleon said.

The current CEO was Sheriff Warner Evans that started the lawsuit over prisoner conditions. The jail needs more money and that's something both Napoleon and Kenny agree upon.

Under the law, the judge does have the authority to order the Wayne County Commission to give more money to the sheriff's department even if the judge says, in his opinion, that "more money may be required."

The budget to run the county's jails is $104 million but, again, it's based on what the judge calls an "unrealistic prison population" of 1,776. 

"The county executive and I are going to sit at the table and we're going to work through this," Napoleon said.


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