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Jail Alternatives Can Save County Money

KCEN-TV is reporting that McClennan County Officials are looking for alternatives to jail crowding that include electronic monitoring to reduce costs.

McLennan County Commissioner, Ray Meadows says the proposal could save the county $800,000. When the county jail is filled to capacity inmates are brought to the Civigenics Detention Center. It’s estimated that the county has 100 inmates there, but of course they have to pay for that. It’s estimated they pay $1.2 million per year. …"If we could do it with an ankle bracelet, through electronic monitoring is a better … possibly we could save the county $800,000." McLennan County Commissioner Ray Meadows said.

Meadows couldn't be more right. County officials and jail administrators can control the number of individuals cycling in and out of the jail by implementing programs like electronic monitoring. Supervising defendants in the community maintains public safety while minimizing incarceration expenditures.

Other counties experiencing similar problems should follow McClennan County's lead and put into practice programs that free up county jail space while protecting the public. Other programs counties could consider include jail diversion for substance abuse defendants and low-cost personal bond programs for low-level, nonviolent jail detainees.

County and city officials like the sheriff, district attorney, judges, and police chief have the ability to control the county jail population. What is lacking is the innovative leadership to implement such methods in many counties around the state.

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