PONTIAC (WWJ/AP) – Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says releasing 228 prisoners from the overcrowded Oakland County Jail could have been avoided if judges had used alternative sentencing.

This week’s sentence reductions to ease overcrowding at the Pontiac facility were ordered by a judge. A similar release was ordered in March.

Bouchard said he sent a letter to judges earlier this month, notifying them of the “jail emergency and asking for cooperation to help avoid it”

“What we have is a jail utilization issue. We have people taking up beds that  really don’t need to be in jail. I’m not saying these people haven’t committed offenses and don’t deserve punishment, but there are other ways to handle them,” he told The Detroit News.

Bouchard said other alternative programs, such as GPS tethers and community service, could be better sentences in many cases — rather than housing inmates at $100 a day at taxpayer expense.

Bouchard declared the overcrowding emergency Aug. 8. The jail can hold 1,510 prisoners.

Michigan law requires sentence reductions if prisoners don’t pose a high risk. Early releases include inmates sentenced for misdemeanors and felonies.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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