Delta Co. jail staffing discussed

ESCANABA – The Delta County Board agreed Tuesday to set a meeting to discuss how to proceed with an understaffing issue in the county jail.

The board received a letter addressing the need from Delta County Sheriff Gary Ballweg earlier in the month. The letter notes a requirement of the Michigan Department of Corrections Administrative Rules for Jails and Lockups concerning staffing levels.

According to Ballweg, the DOC-required staffing level for the facility is 20 full-time corrections officers. Currently, there are 13 full-time officers. This lower staffing level leaves staff and inmates at risk and results in inadequate security and unsupervised inmate activities, Ballweg said in the letter.

A DOC inspector is expected to return to Delta County in January and check on the status of staffing and overcrowding in the jail, Ballweg said.

“The board needs to deal with this letter,” said Board Chairman Tom Elegeert at Tuesday’s meeting. “I would suggest we turn it over to a committee to take a look at it because it would be a huge expense to bring it up to 20.”