INGHAM COUNTY JAIL
Connie Lee – CJUS 101 – G. Marutiak
Before the Ingham County Jail was built, the prisoners detained by the Ingham County Sheriff had to be taken via horse and buggy to Jackson – punishment by itself I would imagine, and it was a full day's trip. In 1840 the “Village of Mason Center” was chosen as the county seat, mostly due to it's central location. Along with the title, an office building was built at 155 Maple Street to handle administrative duties and employees. Not too long after that a courthouse was erected at 142 East Ash, with strict instructions to the planners not to spend more than $800 in getting it built. This 28x34 building had no room for prisoners, so at the same time a brick jail with wooden cells (ginormous logs) was built onto the back of the already standing building at 125 E. Oak Street. Reminiscent of the 'Old West' it had a stockade of sharpened posts made of heavy timber encircling the jail portion of the building. Sheriff Joseph L. Huntington and his wife Minerva were the very first occupants of Ingham Co.'s very first jail, residing over the cells in a second floor living space. The jail not only meant new digs for the Sheriff, but that he could actually live and work IN Ingham County, instead of spending most of his time elsewhere dealing with administrative or jailing issues which simply could not be handled in county until now.
In 1868 new jail was built, expanding to include a 'bull pen' which held prisoners in transit or awaiting pick up, transfer, or even release; and also an 'insanity ward' room which needs no explanation. In approximately 1925, Sheriff Hugh Silsby requested that the Board of Supervisors for the county fund a new jail facility. His main concern was the sheer number of prisoners the old building was expected to handle, the bull pen was designed for 24 prisoners and most days held up to 60, while the insanity ward room was utterly destroyed by its 'guests'. Worth mentioning, since the...
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