Report Urges Baltimore To Rethink Its Jail-First Mindset


To end Baltimore's distinction as the nation's most active jailer, the city's police, courts and social service agencies should revamp their approach toward those accused of nonviolent crimes to emphasize treatment rather than incarceration, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group stated in a report released Tuesday. The Maryland Daily Record said the Justice Policy Institute placed much of the blame for Baltimore's high incarceration rate on a police force too ready to arrest and jail non-violent offenders, judges requiring bail in too many cases, a jail system providing insufficient social services to those being released and a probation system that jails individuals for minor probation violations.

“All of the criminal justice agencies operating in Baltimore contribute to this problem, and all of them can play a part in the solution,” JPI stated in its 72-page report. “Continuing to promote policies that incarcerate people with non-violent offenses and who are classified as low risk crowds the jail and has a negative impact on individuals, families and communities.” Baltimore, with a jail population at 4,010 in 2008, had the highest percentage of its residents – 0.629 percent – in jail among the 20 largest urban jail systems in the United States, according to JPI. Ninety percent of those jailed in Baltimore had not been convicted of a crime but were awaiting trial, the institute stated.

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