Jail populations are increasing at near-record rates, raising costs for budget-strapped local governments. USA Today notes that Justice Department figures show that the number of inmates in city and county jails rose 5.4 percent last year, to 665,475. It was the largest jump in the population of local jails since 1997, and more than twice the rate of the inmate increase in state prisons.
Jail inmates usually are convicts serving sentences of under, defendants awaiting trial, and parole violators and others awaiting transfers to state prisons.
The population increase is due to several factors, including more judges’ denying bail to defendants, delays in transferring inmates to crowded state prisons, and high rates of parole and probation violations. A Justice Department report issued yesterday says that 41 percent of parolees and 14 percent of probationers violated the terms of their releases last year.
“From the standpoint of the (local) governments, this couldn’t be coming at a worse time,” says Jacqueline Byers of the National Association of Counties. The nation’s economic decline has cut state and federal aid to local governments. making it difficult for them to support the increased demand for jail services.