Back to top

Jail alternatives

Since jail crowding is often called the most pressing problem facing criminal justice systems in the U.S., this 3-hour videoconference aims to help jurisdictions develop effective strategies and techniques for managing jail population levels. Issues discussed include:

  • The systemic problem of crowding and the need for effective system-wide policy
  • Decision points in the system that help control crowding
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Long and short term strategies to reduce jail population levels
  • Identifying and developing systemic strategies to handle special populations
  • And learning how to develop a vision for the future and identifying resources.


Alleviating Jail Crowding: A Systemic Approach Cover

“In 2011, California adopted AB 109 Public Safety Realignment requiring counties to assume responsibility for low-level offenders. In a post-Realignment California, counties must implement population management strategies that reserve bed space for high-risk individuals and efficiently allocate resources. This fact sheet lists four available deliberate interventions that counties can employ to alleviate jail bed space and improve public safety outcomes” (p. 1). These recommendations may also be useful for other jails looking to reduce their own bed space. Strategies for decreasing the need for bed space while ensuring public safety are: expand county use of split sentences; limit county compliance for non-mandatory Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold requests; develop and expand alternatives to pretrial detention; and create and use community-based supervision alternatives.

Jail Population Management Strategies in a Post-Realignment Era Cover

"Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a pre-booking diversion pilot program developed with the community to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes … The program allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or prostitution activity to community-based services, instead of jail and prosecution. By diverting eligible individuals to services, LEAD is committed to improving public safety and public order, and reducing the criminal behavior of people who participate in the program." LEAD reduced recidivism by 22%. Points of entry to this website include: about LEAD; latest news; multimedia; evaluation; and contact information.

LEAD: Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion cover

"In the late 1990s, jail diversion programs, many especially geared toward those with mental health challenges, began to emerge around the country. New and modified diversion strategies have also been implemented in the last 15 years. These are highlighted and reviewed in the pages that follow. The Douglas County Correctional Facility shares the fate of many detention centers around the country … the literature review that follows is designed only to inform strategies that might result in more effective diversion of persons with mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders from the jail system" (p. 2). Recommendations are also given regarding the creation of a Mental Health Court and Crisis Center in Douglas County. Intercept points are community crisis centers, law enforcement, post-booking intercepts in jails and at initial hearings, and mental health courts. Reentry programs are not reviewed.

Review of the Literature on Jail Diversion Programs and Summary Recommendations for the Establishment of a Mental Health Court and Crisis Center within Douglas County, Kansas Cover

"Transgender people face an array of risks to their health and well-being during incarceration, and are often targets of physical assault and emotional abuse. They are commonly placed in correctional facilities according to their genitals and/or sex assigned at birth, regardless of their gender presentation. The health risks of overlooking the particular needs of transgender inmates are so severe that acknowledgment of the problem and policies that assure appropriate and responsible provision of health care are needed … Because jails, prisons, and juvenile confinement facilities have a responsibility to ensure the physical and mental health and well-being of inmates in their custody, correctional health staff should manage transgender patients in a manner that respects their biomedical and psychological needs." Twenty-five principles are provided to help correctional health professionals assure that the needs of transgender offenders are met. These principles are organized into the following sections—health management, patient safety, and discharge planning.

Transgender, Transsexual, and Gender Nonconforming Health Care in Correctional Settings cover
Subscribe to Jail alternatives