“The Best Way to Deal With America’s Incarceration Problem Is Hiding in Plain Sight”: Washington Post

“The Best Way to Deal With America’s Incarceration Problem Is Hiding in Plain Sight”: Washington Post July 18, 2015

(if by “in plain sight” you mean, in jail)

The first of the convoys left Albuquerque in August 2013. A cruiser would take the lead, followed by a few buses and vans and another cruiser at the rear. For more than a year, they ferried inmates between an overcrowded jail on the city’s outskirts and another facility with empty cells, more than 800 miles away.

The jail in Albuquerque, like many others around the country, didn’t have enough room. Authorities were spending $35,000 per day to house inmates outside the county.

“This was something that had to be done,” said Capt. Ray Gonzales of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque.

Then, things changed. The jail inmate numbers plummeted. The convoys stopped. Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque, now incarcerates 38 percent fewer people than it did in 2013.

Despite this transformation, jails such as Albuquerque’s have gone almost unmentioned in the bipartisan discussion about the huge number of Americans behind bars, which has solely focused on prisons. …

In jails, in fact, evidence is mounting that reducing the number of inmates can make the public safer. Researchers have found that defendants who are detained in jail before trials become more likely to commit additional offenses. Even a few days in jail can be devastating. A student who misses a few classes because she’s behind bars might have to drop out for a semester, and a busboy who misses just one shift might lose his job.

more (I’ll register a protest against that “the public” rhetoric–people in jail and prison are part of our communities–but basic point is sound; article explores a few different routes toward reducing the jail population)


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