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Politics & Government

Bill would reduce jail cell size requirement

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Inmates in Michigan's county jails could be housed in smaller cells under a bill passed by the Michigan house this week.

Michigan’s county sheriffs would be given more leeway in how they run their jails under a bill passed by the state House this week.

The bill targets jail overcrowding by subdividing cells. The required 52-square-feet per inmate would be cut nearly in half.

It also allows for an inmate with no prior criminal convictions to be double-bunked with a convicted felon.

State Representative Matt Lori co-sponsored the bill.

"It’ll make things a lot easier for the sheriffs to keep inmates behind bars as opposed to releasing them when their population gets to the point they have to declare an overcrowding emergency," Lori says.

John Walsh is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Grand Valley State University. He says smaller jail cells could increase safety risks for inmates and staff and lead to lawsuits.