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Erie County on Thursday held a record number of inmates, 1,653, said H. McCarthy Gipson, superintendent of the Jail Management Division.

Gipson said the number again portends the need for the county to expand the Holding Center's capacity, as the state Commission of Correction has urged. The commission has given Erie County temporary variances from its rules, bringing the capacity to 1,579.

"We are in a pay me now or pay me later position," Gipson said. "At some point the county is going to have to build more jail space."

It would be a multimillion-dollar undertaking. Right now, a panel is at work trying to suggest ways to take the pressure off the existing number of cells, such as greater use of home confinement.

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