America’s jail system is seriously flawed and a nonprofit foundation is investing $75 million to help finance changes.
Three-fifths of the nation’s jail inmates are pre-trial defendants who are presumed innocent, commented Nicholas Turner, president of the Vera Institute. Releases with no money paid based on promise to return to court are less common than they were two decades ago.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation project is aimed toward eliminating 12 million jail admissions in the U.S. every year, according to a May 28 article by Ted Gest in The Crime Report.
The plan is to award $150,000 grants to 20 locations around the country to prove that low-level offenders and defendant cases awaiting disposition do not have to be behind bars for public safety purposes.
“The 10 locations with the most promising plans will qualify next year for a second round of funding, between $500,000 and $2 million each year, to put their ideas into action,” reported Gest, president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington bureau chief of The Crime Report.
|“From 1983 to 2011, jail budgets have jumped from $5.7 billion to $22 billion”|
The U.S. justice system “needs some serious attention,” said Julia Stasch, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. “When the justice system fails, virtually nothing else can succeed.”
Jails “are being used to detain the wrong individuals,” said Michael Botticelli, director of the national drug control policies for the Obama administration. He called for a “public health” system, rather than a “punitive” approach.
“We should be screening people out (of jail), not in,” said Botticelli, a former addict himself.
From 1983 to 2011, jail budgets have jumped from $5.7 billion to $22 billion, according to the Vera Institute. “The national price for jails remains unknown…taxpayers who foot most of the bill remain unaware of what their dollars are buying.”