Contact: John Cwikla
Contact: Renee Yax
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2020
Macomb County Executive, Sheriff reconsider plans for jail request
The spread of COVID-19 in the region and the corresponding impact it is having on both the jail population and Macomb County’s economy, has caused the Macomb County Executive and Sheriff to reconsider plans to ask voters to approve a jail millage in August.
During the first week of April, the jail population dropped below 500 inmates for the first time in more than 30 years. The decline is due to a number of factors, including steps taken to find alternatives to incarceration and measures related to reducing the spread of COVID-19.
County Executive Mark Hackel pointed to skyrocketing unemployment claims from Macomb residents as part of concerns of a major new expenditure on the jail.
“We have weathered challenging economic times in the past, but we have never experienced a moment in time quite like this,” Hackel said. “We just haven’t seen it escalate this fast. No one could have anticipated such a steep overnight decline in employment.”
Across the nation and state we have seen historic increases in jobless claims. With more than 16.8 million claims nationwide and 817,000 claims in Michigan, both workforce and community action agencies are scaling up operations to meet this unprecedented demand.
“It is our hope that after this pandemic passes, our local economy will rebound quickly,” Hackel said. “Until that time, it would be terribly insensitive to ask our residents for a tax increase when so many are struggling to pay for the basics.”
The plan for rehabilitating the jail that has been developed over the past year and a half will be placed on hold.
“A lot of good work was accomplished during the study phase,” said Sheriff Anthony Wickersham. “This includes identifying several opportunities for reforming the criminal justice system using best practices from across the nation.”
Hackel said he and the Sheriff have informed the Macomb County Board of Commissioners of their decision to pause the project. The Commission had previously identified the August 2020 primary election as the time to place a millage proposal before County voters.
43565 Elizabeth Rd., Mt. Clemens, MI, 48043