Pictures of overcrowding in the Livingston County Jail are alarming

(WXYZ) - The pictures inside the Livingston County Jail are disturbing. 

One shows eight women crammed into a booking area taken back on November 8.  Another from this past weekend shows nine men in a similar situation. 

Sheriff Bob Bezotte says he made the pictures public to show the need for a proposed $13 million dollar jail expansion. It's a plan that has been in the works for 10 years. 

The last jail expansion was in 1996 and it was full 4 years later.  The Sheriff says he rents jail space from Kent and Montcalm Counties when he can and has judges and prosecutors on call to issue early releases to non-violent offenders.  But the overcrowding in the pictures happens when too many people are brought in and first booked. 

The chairman of the County Commission Public Safety Committee, Ron Van Hauten tells 7 Action News that the Sheriff "has tried his best," but putting the pictures out in the public was "uncalled for." 

Van Hauten says the Sheriff should have come to the County Board first and he has liability concerns that they could be sued. 

The ACLU is looking into the case.  It won a lawsuit in Livingston County in 2004 over not allowing female inmates out for work release. 

The issue is before the County Commission with the Sheriff at its next meeting next Monday at 7:30 pm. 


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