Thursday, June 06, 2013

Jail Opponents Have A Number

During the justice center fight, I came to the conclusion that whatever size jail supporters proposed, the opponents would always argue for a size smaller. The plan voted down in May had a bed count in the 190s, Jeff Cox was arguing for 160. If we came back with 160, they'd argue for 120. 120? The opponets would argue for the current 92 (46 double-bunked.)

I was part-right. At yesterday's What Next criminal justice meeting, the opponents offered their own number
Aleksey Gurtovoy said the county could ease overcrowding by simply having fewer prisoners. He said the county should aim to have about 50 inmates rather than the current number of almost 150.
In other words, the current jail, with the double bunks removed. That's… a pretty strong statement, and maybe a good long range goal for the entire society, requiring changes in laws, poverty rates, crime rates, demographics, and ideology.

Now, could the Iowa City Police Department stand to cut arrests by half to two-thirds in the short term? Probably.  That ACLU report on disproportionate minority marijuana arrests looks like a good starting point, and getting the drinking age back to 18 where it belongs would help too.

But that's a different issue than the jail size. One of the problems justice center supporters had is the perception issue between the arrest blotter - who's initially charged and brought to jail - and the jail roster of who's deemed dangerous or flight-risky enough to keep there.

Historically, the arrest blotter had gotten a lot more attention, and in Iowa City it's traditionally looked like PAULA PAULA PAULA simple possession public intox PAULA. Today's looks light, it's midweek and an off time of the year. I see two OWIs, a public intox and two driving while suspended.

How many of those "deserve" to go to jail? Probably the two drunk drivers, though I'd like to see the BAC number on each. The public intox? Depends on how dangerous he was to others. Odds are none of them will be in long after they sober up.

The jail roster doesn't have the specific charges on the main screen, you have to check under each name. But my semi-random checking saw a lot more items like burglaries and assaults. Feel free to look through all 118 names and decide which 68 of them you'd like to see let out.

No comments: