Sheriff Ordered to Improve Wayne County Jail Buildings

DETROIT — Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny ordered Sheriff Benny Napoleon to start fixing up the Wayne County jail in Detroit, citing roaches, drain flies and other evidence of hygiene problems.

Sheriff Napoleon had been fighting in court for more deputies to staff the three Wayne County jail buildings, reported WXYZ Detroit. However, the county “argues that it cannot possibly accede to the sheriff’s proposed modifications due to the extraordinary costs associated with the additional staff request along with the county’s stressed financial situation,” according to court documents.

Judge Kenny stepped in, denying the sheriff’s requests and, instead, wrote a formal order on Jan. 30 for the sheriff to enhance jail operations. He wrote that it’s clear the sheriff stopped performing basic maintenance inside the jail properties ever since the county launched a new jail construction project back in 2011. That $300 million project, however, was stopped when it was estimated to be $90 million over budget.

The judge wrote, “Maintenance has been virtually eliminated due to skilled trade staff reductions at the jail properties.”

One example Judge Kenny cited was the deteriorating kitchen floor, which “cannot be properly cleaned or sanitized to prevent the infestation of insects and rodents.” He added, “There is a problem with drain fly larvae and organic matter in the inmate showers, particularly when 20 inmates, some of whom have hygiene problems, all share a shower the size of a ‘phone booth.’”

Judge Kenny ordered the sheriff to develop a plan to hire unfilled medical staff positions within 60 days of the Jan. 30 order, as the county has been failing to give inmates the required health check within 48 hours of booking. The judge also told the sheriff that “all personnel hired into positions which are jail-budgeted positions must perform their work in the jail and are not to be deployed to non-jail duty,” including positions such as road patrols and the marine division.

Sheriff Napoleon said in a statement that he agreed to work cooperatively with the new County Executive to resolve these issues; however, lawyers for Napoleon have already filed new paperwork with the court, asking the judge to reconsider this order, WXYZ Detroit reported.