Berrien County Jail bookings declinePublished 7:55pm Thursday, March 1, 2012
ST. JOSEPH — The number of bookings in the Berrien County Jail continues its steady decline.
In 2011, 7,641 people were booked, down from 8,087 in 2010.
The average daily population of the jail remained steady at 337, up slightly from 333 a year ago. The average population was 388 in 2007.
The figures are according to the recently released Berrien County Sheriff’s Department 2011 annual report, which was presented to county commissioners Thursday.
Sheriff Paul Bailey credits the reduction in bookings to better management of the jail population and the growth of alternative programs.
Medical costs continue to skyrocket for the sheriff’s department. Medical expenses totaled nearly $874,000 in 2011, up from about $682,000 in 2010 and $562,000 in 2009.
The number of inmates treated in 2011 was up by only 50 from 2010, but the cost of medical and pharmaceutical supplies increase substantially.
Property crimes up
Property crimes and fraud-related offenses were rampant in 2011, according to the report.
Bailey said it is due to the poor economy and high unemployment in the county. VanBuren, Cass and St. Joseph (Ind.) counties also experienced high property crime rates last year.
The detective bureau was also busy in 2011. The number of computers, cell phones and electronic storage devices used to commit crimes that were analyzed this year doubled from 2010.
The narcotics unit investigated 1,043 incidents, resulting in 270 arrests in 2011. Marijuana and crack cocaine continue to be the drugs of choice in the county, according to the report, although heroine is also on the rise.