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Controlling Inmate Population Size: A Case Study of 20 Years of Success
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Submitted by Marilyn Chandler Ford, Assistant Director, Volusia County Department of Corrections, Daytona Beach, Florida for the 2007 LJN Exchange.


The most recent report on the nation’s jails shows over three-quarters of a million inmates (766,010) held at midyear 2006.1 This was a 2.5% increase over the 2005 midyear total of 747,529. In 2006 alone, jails  reported adding 21,862 beds during the previous 12 months, bringing the nation’s total rated capacity to 810,863. These figures confirm what jail administrators know firsthand: inmate populations have been increasing beyond available bed space and, in large measure, beyond expectations.

It is fair to say that every state, as well as a majority of local jurisdictions, has confronted the challenge of an increasing inmate population. With over 3,300 jails nationally, this equates to an issue of widespread proportions. For many jails this has meant building—whether new construction or renovation—to add beds.  Yet it is possible to manage an increasing demand for jail beds. Volusia County, Florida, is one jurisdiction that has achieved demonstrable success in controlling the size of its jail population. The county has not pursued any new jail construction for more than 20 years. I am sharing our experience in the hope that our lessons may be of use to other jail administrators.     

Posted Mon, Jan 10 2011 2:08 PM by Billy


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