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August 27, 2019

"Arrest, Release, Repeat: How police and jails are misused to respond to social problems"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new report from the Prison Policy Initiative authored by By Alexi Jones and Wendy Sawyer.  Here is how the report gets started:

Police and jails are supposed to promote public safety. Increasingly, however, law enforcement is called upon to respond punitively to medical and economic problems unrelated to public safety issues.  As a result, local jails are filled with people who need medical care and social services, many of whom cycle in and out of jail without ever receiving the help they need.  Conversations about this problem are becoming more frequent, but until now, these conversations have been missing three fundamental data points: how many people go to jail each year, how many return, and which underlying problems fuel this cycle.

In this report, we fill this troubling data gap with a new analysis of a federal survey, finding that at least 4.9 million people are arrested and jailed each year, and at least one in 4 of those individuals are booked into jail more than once during the same year. Our analysis shows that repeated arrests are related to race and poverty, as well as high rates of mental illness and substance use disorders.  Ultimately, we find that people who are jailed have much higher rates of social, economic, and health problems that cannot and should not be addressed through incarceration.

August 27, 2019 at 12:34 PM | Permalink


Sure that is true; the phrase "three hots and cot" ring a bell. The problem is convincing states to fund other services. For millions of residents my state has exactly one transitional housing program for people with mental health disorders which can accommodate about 10 people max. So it it any wonder that they sooner or later wind up in jail? The law and order lobby is powerful and they don't want to do anything that takes away that power.

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 27, 2019 1:21:15 PM

We need more private correctional system agencies, but not using the same profiteering methodologies. The new methods would involve not just payment per incarcerated prisoner, but also include penalties for recidivists who spent the bulk of their sentence in the private facility.

In short, we need to ensure that the prison systems are not just there for punishment, which is fine. But incentives must be made so that the private correctional system agency also control much of the societal reintegration process, currently known as parole. While one cannot ultimately control the actions of people, one can certainly ensure that enough proper steps were made to fully rehabilitate inmates so they don't return, particularly doing their old bad deeds.

Please note: current public methodologies do not work, and are now at a point where true innovative measures must be taken. Such innovation can only be implemented from the private sector at this point.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Sep 2, 2019 11:48:46 AM

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