If you’re wondering whether your county really needs more jail cells – or if you’re already determined that it doesn’t, we have put together some resources to help you and your neighbors sort through what some of the key issues are, what the policy alternatives to jail expansion are and what you can do to move your county away from a disastrous jail expansion project.
Here in California many sheriffs are planning to expand county jail systems and in most of those counties residents are questioning whether a bigger jail and more county spending going to the sheriff’s budget is necessary. Almost 2/3 of the people in California jails last year were being held pre-trial, meaning that they hadn’t been convicted yet.
CURB believes that expanding the number of jail or prison cells is terrible public policy. We incarcerate too many people for too long already. Tax dollars that were used a generation ago to pay for schools and public housing have been diverted to pay for more law enforcement and incarceration.
There are a lot of reports and fact sheets about jails. We’ve selected 10 of the best. They’re easy to read and will give you a solid overview of what can be done in your county, and how you can take steps to put your county on the right path.
We’ve listed some other resources for those of you who want to dig a little deeper into public policy questions about jails.
Short and simple guides and fact-sheets from Community Alternatives to Jail Expansion. The best place to start.
A chapter from CPMP’s How to Stop a Prison in Your Town on organizing basics.
Sample tools from recent jail fights in California
Summary of a recent report on how and why to abolish bail, the simplest way to reduce the ‘need’ for more jail cells.
Great overview of what’s wrong with jail expansion & what the alternatives are.
The human cost of holding people in jail because they can’t raise bail money.
James Austin: Assessing and Managing Your Jail Population: a Toolkit for Practitioners – http://www.ca-ilg.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/jailassessmentoolkit10_31_12.pdf
Robert C. Boruchowitz/NACDL: Minor Crimes, Massive Waste: The Terrible Toll of America’s Broken Misdemeanor Courts – http://www.nacdl.org/public.nsf/defenseupdates/misdemeanor/$FILE/Report.pdf
BJS: A Second Look at Alleviating Jail Crowding: A Systems Perspective – http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/182507.pdf
CPMP: How to Stop a Prison in Your Town (http://www.calipmp.org/documents (in English or Spanish)
Craig Gilmore/Real Cost of Prisons Project: “Prison Towns: Paying the Price”
Dana Kaplan/CAJE: Impacts of Jail Expansion in New York State: A Hidden Burden – http://www.ccr-ny.org/v2/reports/docs/CCR_NYS_Jail_Report.pdf
Magnus Lofstrom and Katherine Kramer/PPIC: Capacity Challenges in California’s Jails – http://www.ppic.org/main/publication_quick.asp?i=1034
Sarah Lyons and Nastassia Walsh/Justice Policy Institute: Money Well Spent: How positive social investments will reduce incarceration rates, improve public safety, and promote the well-being of communities – http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/10-09_REP_MoneyWellSpent_PS-DC-AC-JJ.pdf
Los Angeles Conservancy: Using CEQA to Protect Your Community – http://www.laconservancy.org/preservation/CEQA_english.pdf
Vera Institute: Making the Transition: Rethinking Jail Reentry in Los Angeles County: fact sheet – http://www.vera.org/sites/default/files/resources/downloads/making-the-transition-fact-sheet.pdf
Ana Yanez-Corera and Molly Trotman/TCJC: Costly Confinement & Sensible Solutions: Jail Overcrowding in Texas – http://www.criminaljusticecoalition.org/files/userfiles/TCJC_Jail_Overcrowding_Report.pdf