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County Jails at a Crossroads: An Examination of the Jail Population and Pretrial Release

"This study is the first to examine the participation of county jails in pretrial release. The report identifies the pretrial status and risk level of the county jail population and variations across counties of different population sizes. Further, this research analyzes the challenges that county jails face with their pretrial and overall jail population. The study details to what extent county jails use community based programs to release pretrial detainees from confinement in jail and supervise them in the community. In addition, the research examines the presence of other county policies and practices that may result in the release of the pretrial population from jail. This report provides a first step in understanding the role of counties in pretrial release" (p. 7). Sections following an executive summary include: introduction; key terms; Finding 1-the majority of the jail population is pretrial and low risk; Finding 2-counties are caught between courts' decision-making and increases in the jail population and jail costs; Finding 3-some county jails supervise pretrial detainees outside of confinement; and conclusion.