Letter to the editor: Jail practices

To the editor:

It is becoming apparent that too many people are ending up in the Douglas County Jail. A recent poll found that nearly one-half of all Americans would have difficulty coming up with $400 for an unexpected expense. That’s a primary reason why the jail is over capacity. Many people just can’t afford to post a modest bond or pay a small fine, so they end up in jail. Others are jailed for failing to appear in court.

According to an article in the July 16 New York Times, the city of Jennings, Mo., “agreed last year to a settlement (with the U.S. Department of Justice) over its jailing practices, which ended the system of putting people in jail for unpaid fines, got rid of the use of cash bail and required the court to set up a payment plan for a person who owes a fine, depending on the person’s ability to pay.” It is possible our municipal and district courts can adopt some of the new practices the city of Jennings has put into place. The goal should be to keep people from re-offending and not punishing them with jail for relatively minor offenses.