Of the three counties that have the highest jail incarceration rates in the country, two are in Tennessee, according to a new report released today by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI). The research found that Davidson and Shelby Counties have the second and third highest jail incarceration rates in the country. Only Philadelphia incarcerates people in jails at a higher rate.
The report, Jailing Communities: The Impact of Jail Expansion and Effective Public Safety Strategies, found jail population growth (22 percent), is having serious consequences for communities that are now paying tens of billions yearly to sustain jails. Jails are filled with people with drug addictions, the homeless and people charged with immigration offenses. The report concludes that jails have become the "new asylums," with six out of 10 people in jail living with a mental illness.
The research found that jails are now warehousing more people–who have not been found guilty of any crime–for longer periods of time than ever before. The research shows that in part due to the rising costs of bail, people arrested today are much more likely to serve jail time before trial than they would have been twenty years ago, even though crime rates are nearly at the lowest levels in thirty years.
The impact of increased jail imprisonment is not borne equally by all members of a community. New data reveal that Latinos are most likely to have to pay bail, have the highest bail amounts, are least likely to be able to pay and, by far, the least likely to be released prior to trial. African Americans are nearly five times as likely to be incarcerated in jails as whites and almost three times as likely as Latinos. Further exacerbating jail crowding problems is the increase in the number of people being held in jails for immigration violations–up 500 percent in the last decade.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.