According to the Justice Department, we now have 2.3 million people locked up in our nation’s prisons and jails. Between 2000 and 2007, the number of inmates in custody in prisons or jails increased by 367,200. Male inmates (315,100) accounted for 86% of the increase to the custody population.
I saw an interesting quote by a progressive Sheriff in Colorado, something like “the best jail is an empty jail.” I suppose that is right if he means that he would prefer there be no crime. What he really meant was that jail should be the last resort.
The sad thing to me is – we have so few options. What good is assessing a fine if someone was stealing because they were broke in the first place.
I agree that we need a bigger jail here in Pulaski County — but there has not been enough emphasis on reducing the number of people sent to jail in the first place. Remember when Judge Flemming held Sheriff Johnson in contempt for letting people out? It’s not like the sheriff was letting out violent criminals — Judge Flemming is the traffic judge and presumably everyone he sends to jail is sent for non-violent crimes ( although some might argue getting a 3rd DWI is worse than some violent crimes) I liked this quotes, “Jail should only be for separating those who prey on the innocent.” Maybe, but what good is giving a fine instead of jail time — when people could simply refuse to pay their fines. I think there should be two jails — one for rapists, felons, and “real criminals” and then another for the rest – the people who refuse to pay fines, refuse to get car insurance, who shop lift, or write hot checks. The main purpose of the jail should be to promote public safety — if we have any room left over we can worry about the non-violent offenders then.