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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 82459 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: What Can County Commissioners Do About Their Jails?
Journal: Prison Journal  Volume:41  Issue:2  Dated:(Autumn/Winter 1981)  Pages:14-18
Author(s): K Ricci
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Steps county commissioners can take to determine the appropriate size of a new jail are discussed.
Abstract: The size of a new jail must be appropriate to the needs and resources of the community, so determining whether a projected jail size is appropriate is a task for policymakers, using data provided by planners. The county commissioners should first determine how well the jail is doing its job. This will involve examining the types of persons awaiting trial and those sentenced to determine whether they can be dealt with by means that are less expensive but equally safe. The jail is performing its proper role as a scarce resource only if it is used as the last, rather than as the first, method of dealing with persons awaiting trial or serving a sentence. Next, the commissioners should examine how other agencies are affecting the use of the scarce resources of jail space and time. County commissioners should insist that law enforcement, the courts, probation, prosecution, and public defender agencies (entities that determine who goes to jail) provide assurances that they will control the future jail population. Thirdly, the commissioners should explore the alternatives to increasing jail space and jail time. This will involve determining what alternatives are currently being used, what their capacity is, and what more they can do to deal with arrestees and offenders. The final step is to find out the costs and benefits associated with various policy options for solving the problem of jail overcrowding. It may be that a new jail building is necessary to replace an unsafe, insecure, and overcrowded facility, but the introduction or expansion of alternative programs will substantially reduce the size of such a Facility, leading to substantial savings in construction costs and operating expenses.
Index Term(s): Decisionmaking; Jails; Local government; Overcrowding; Prison construction
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