If you get arrested in the Upper Keys, even for a minor infraction, expect to spend your jail time in Key West.
Because of staff shortages in the wake of Hurricane Irma, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the three jails in the Keys, is sending all inmates to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island after they’re booked either at the Plantation Key or Marathon jails.
“It’s a manpower issue,” said Deputy Becky Herrin, the Sheriff’s Office media relations officer. “We can’t properly staff the facilities right now.”
Seven Monroe Sheriff’s Office employees resigned since Irma touched down on the island chain Sept. 10 and others are picking up the pieces in the aftermath of the Category 4 storm.
“We have a lot of people whose homes were destroyed,” Herrin said. “We anticipated losing employees during the storm, just like everyone else here. It doesn’t take much. ”
The Stock Island jail, right outside Key West, is the largest of the county’s three corrections facilities. It’s usually reserved for those booked on more serious charges.
The situation has not impacted the courts in terms of first appearances. The sheriff’s office has conducted video hearings for years, so an inmate arrested in the Key Largo or Islamorada area would still make his or her first appearance before an Upper Keys judge, albeit remotely.
David Goodhue: 305-440-3204