Friday, June 4, 2010

Jails at Lowest Population Since 2001

The nation’s jail population is on the decline.

That’s according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which announced yesterday the country’s jails shed 2.3% of their population from 2008 to 2009. That’s 17,936 inmates.

Unlike prisons, jails are operated by local law enforcement. More than half of jail inmates are unconvicted and await arraignment, trial, or conviction.

Allegheny County Jail Warden Ramon Rustin says he doesn’t know if that’s related to crime rates – but he says policies like probation sentences and cheaper bails are to thank.

Rustin says jail was originally used to house the offenders that society is afraid of.

“We kind of went to jailing people that we’re simply mad at for a variety of things,” says Rustin. “So we take a look at that, and large-scale administrators actually try to manage the population [to] where it doesn’t cost the taxpayer a massive amount of money.”

The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the largest jails had the highest drops in population. Almost 30% of the nationwide decline happened in just seven jails.

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