Letter to the editor: A solution to jail crowding

To the editor:

In regard to the Jan. 1 article about numbers at the Douglas County Jail, the arrest numbers are down, but the crowding is causing inmates to be “farmed out” at increasing numbers. According to the article, this is threatening the re-entry program. Programs for low-level offenders to receive help and training (which address domestic violence, substance abuse, criminal thinking and educational opportunities) cannot be received when inmates are farmed out (40 percent of the female inmates were farmed out in 2016). Research shows that these programs make a difference.

From the article, which did a good job of summarizing the annual report, it seems that the crowding problem is connected to a change in a state statute redefining a speedy trial from 90 days to 150 in some felony cases. This allows the attorneys more time to prepare cases or get on the docket.

If there is a need to increase the time to prepare cases (or there are too few attorneys to handle these cases), maybe there is a need for more attorney hours to get the job done. Investigation into the need to hire more resources for the court system may shine some light on whether the problem of overcrowding could be solved quickly with more judges, courtrooms and attorneys. This may be less expensive and quicker. Increased money to manage the “system,” rather than manage housing and the shuffling of inmates around the state, may help all concerned.