Scott County Jail Project: Questions and Answers
Alternatives | Cost | Crime and the Jail | Location | Options
Physical Plant | Size and General Description | Proposed Facility Solution


Question 1.

Do we really need to lock up the people we currently hold? Why can't we just use alternatives to incarceration?

Since the jail referendum failed in 1998, Scott County has taken a long, hard look at its jail population. In 1999 and 2000, the County implemented new alternatives which were recommended.

  • The Court Compliance program, which works with individuals who were placed on unsupervised probation and who subsequently failed to pay a fine, collected more than $338,000, which was previously uncollected, in its first year of operation. 40% of individuals referred to the program paid their fine in full and completed all requirements.
  • The Case Expediter, who ensures that cases are coordinated and move quickly through the pretrial process, was hired.
  • The Sheriff's Department implemented an electronic monitoring program for DUI offenders.
  • In conjunction with the Center for Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS), Scott County and Pre-trial Release implemented a method to move pretrial and sentenced minimum security inmates with substance abuse problems into treatment at CADS.

Through these efforts, the average length of stay of all inmates who were booked at the facility decreased from 17.74 days in 1999 to 11.72 in 2000 and 10.54 in 2001.

Beyond that, Scott County had an already comprehensive continuum of alternatives to incarceration.

  • Pretrial release has been in place since the 1980's and continues to be used aggressively.
  • An adult misdemeanor diversion program diverts low level misdemeanor offenders, such as bad check writers, individuals charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and simple possession, from the system through the use of both deferred sentencing and deferred prosecution.
  • The State Department of Correctional Services provides a variety of probation services as well as operating two community-based institutions. Collaborative efforts have speeded resolution of probation and parole violations, reducing the impact of this type of offender on the jail.
  • Fines are widely used. In FY 99-2000, the Court Clerk collected more than $4,290,000 in fines, fees and costs.
  • In FY 2000-2001, more than $1,450,000 in restitution was ordered.
  • Community service is available for those offenders who elect community service rather than fine.

What the Phase One Needs Assessment showed us was that the population of inmates who remain in custody for more than the very brief period it takes to make bond, get pretrial release and/or make a first appearance is court is a population that is far more difficult to divert.

  • They have more charges for the current arrest.
  • They have more cases pending.
  • They are more likely to be held for a new crime against a person, crime against property or a drug offense.
  • The level at which their bond is set is much higher - indicating higher risk of non-appearance.
  • They have a much more extensive criminal record.
  • They are a much more difficult population to manage while in custody.

In short, the easy targets for alternatives are by and large gone. Our current effort focuses on working with individuals in this group who are likely to remain in Scott County - rather than going into the prison system - to determine how we can impact their behavior to reduce the number of times they come into the criminal justice system in Scott County.