Jackson County Sheriff Nathanial Sickler discussed how the lack of jail space impacts the criminal justice system in Jackson County.
The current jail was finished in 1981 and was built to house 176 inmates. But 1985 the county was already being sued for overcrowding. Over the years they have increased to 292 inmates currently and are working on expanding to 310 inmates that can be housed overnight.
There were over 14,000 bookings in Jackson County last year. Which equates to 65 bookings per thousand, one of the highest levels in the State. This has resulted in more than 4000 forced releases during the course of last year.
The average length of stay in the Jackson County jail is 6.7 days, which is less than half of comparative counties.
This affects the jail operations by decreasing the need to mix of offenders (lifelong offenders lodged with first time offenders), high workload on staff, mental health issues are exacerbated, and overall reduced officer and inmate safety.
The jail capacity problem causes:
-lack of truth in sentencing
-increase in property crimes
-increase calls for service
-less time for discretionary patrol time
-substantial increase in Warrants over the last several years
-Civil papers, subpoenas increase
-officer safety implications
-Broken Window Theory
-Offenders are less likely to engage in programs
-No space for mental health and alcohol and drug use mitigation
-defendants generate multiple offenses
-sanctions are shorter due to lack of space
-cases move through the system much faster when offenders are in custody
-inability to treat those with addictions
-public trust and perception
They are working on the following initatives
-chronic failure to appear initiative
-linking offenders with services
-reducing costs and moving forward with planning for a new jail