The Functions Of Jails
Prisons tend to dominate the literature, but jails are an important and different
element of the system.
- Jails hold pretrial detainees
- Jails hold sentenced misdemeanants
- Approximately 7 million detainees spend time in American Jails each year.
- Annual admissions amount to more than 14 million people per year.
- Annual growth rate of over 10%
- Jail populations are growing faster than prison populations.
- Tight local budgeting has led to serious overcrowding and dismal conditions.
- Almost unanimously prisoners prefer prison to jail.
- Jails generally just house prisoners.
Jails, Should They Do More?
- Frank Zimring argues that jails are a perfect intervention point before people get deep
into the system.
- Should jails be doing early intervention?
- Should jails be confronting the drug problem?
- Should jails have therapeutic communities?
Jail Functions: Detailed
- Those convicted of misdemeanors
- Individuals pending arraignment or trial, conviction , sentencing
- Temporarily detaining juveniles pending transfer to juvenile facilities
- Housing inmates await prison transfer
- Operating community based such as home confinement or electronic monitoring.
- Increasingly called upon to handle overflow from prisons
- John Irwin, "Manage societys rabble"
- "They are not well integrated into conventional social organizations, they have few
ties to conventional social networks, and they are carriers of unconventional values and
- About 600,000 prisoners at any one time
- About 90% male
- Females are increasing as a proportion
- Disproportionately minority
- 55.2% convicted, sentenced
- 10.2% convicted awaiting sentence
- 24% awaiting trial arraigned
- 10.6% waiting arraignment
- 89.9% male
- 37.3% White
- 40.8% Black
- 18.5% Hispanic
- 3.5% Other
- 8th grade or less 13.1%
- Some High School 13.5%
- High School Graduate 40%
- Some College or more 33.4%
- 17 or younger 2.3%
- 18-24 28.5%
- 25-34 37.4%
- 35-44 23.9%
- 45-54 6.3%
- 55 or more1.5%
Most Serious Offense Committed
- Violent 26.3%
- Property 26.9%
- Public Order 24.3%
- Drug Offenses 22%
- Eight states operate jails
- About 3,300 jails nationwide
- 2700 county wide 600 municipal.