Dealing with the Burgeoning Jail Population

The Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail is just about full, Tasha Kates writes in the Progress, and they’re trying to figure out what to do about it. As in the rest of the country, incarceration rates have been climbing for over three decades, despite flat or falling crime rates. (The U.S. has a greater percentage of citizens in prison than any other country in the world.) The jail can fit 580 people, and averages 540 people each day. Now the Thomas Jefferson Area Community Criminal Justice Board is trying to figure out how to empty some beds. The clearest path seems to be to stop jailing the mentally insane and those merely addicted to drugs or alcohol. Other proposed solutions are to let defendants put their bond on a credit card and accelerating the process that moves convicted criminals out of the jail and into prison. Everybody seems to agree that expanding the jail is the solution of last resort.

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