Prisoner and Jail Releases:
A normal part of our criminal justice system

Jail releases occur across the United States, all the time, and part of the rudimentary function of the criminal justice system. The state and county budget crisis of 2001 and 2002 led several states, and many counties to release people due to the fiscal costs of holding people that bare no threat to public safety. As crime rates were still on the decline in 2004, those jail releases seem to have little impact on the national crime rate.

Nueces County, Texas — October 2005. “High prisoner population at the Nueces County Jail has police and court officials trying to reduce numbers by bonding out non-violent offenders and turning in case paperwork faster. Nueces County Sheriff Larry Olivarez said the jail, which houses a maximum of 972 inmates, is at 90 percent capacity. Some prisoners who judges have been asked to release on personal bonds haven't been formally charged but have been in jail for 30 to 90 days and are low flight risk prisoners.”

Multnomah County, Oregon. — October, 2005. Multnomah County cannot hold more people in the jail than there is space available. In the last 60 days, Multnomah County released 985 people held in jails.

Oakland County, Michigan — October 2004 and 2004. After having to deal with an overcrowded jail, Oakland county released people from those institutions in 2004 and 2004. “We are pushing a resolution to put together a systemic look at the (jail) process,” Bouchard said. “But we need to get the prosecutor and most importantly, the courts, to look at the whole process and make it more efficient — possibly cutting jail terms to avoid constantly being on the bubble.”  

Prisoner Releases: Oklahoma, Montana, Arkansas and Kentucky. During the budget crisis of 2001 and 2002, Oklahoma, Montana, Arkansas and Kentucky released hundreds of inmates. In December 2002, Kentucky granted early release to 567 people; in January another 328 prisoners were released. In Arkansas, the state parole board authorized the early release of as many as 521 inmates. For the most part, those released early were people whose crimes were not violent and who were within a few months of their release dates.

Criminal Victimization, 2004. Bureau of Justice Statistics.,1641,CCCT_811_4136809,00.html