Eleven U.S. Jails get millions in grants to improve conditions and reduce inmate population.  One jail named in the grant is the Pima County Jail in Tucson.  Pima County will decrease inmate population by extending “risk screening to all misdemeanor defendants in order to increase post-booking releases.”  The

system will also “add substance abuse and mental health screenings before the initial court appearance to provide the court safe treatment alternatives to jail.  Middle Ground Prison founder Donna Hamm says she’s not buying into the so-called grant.  Hamm says she “has a healthy skeptic about just exactly how they are going to reduce the jail population.”  She says the problem with the grant is its failure to outline specifics on how the money will be used and distributed.  She questions the overall effect it could cause if the grant ends up reducing inmate population.  Hamm goes on to say, if inmate population is reduced, then the “logical  conclusion would be to close out some jails and fire staff because they don’t have prisoners to care for.” And that’s not going to happen.  In fact, Hamm says she “is willing to put Las Vegas money on the fact that-that isn’t going to happen.”  She says the only way to decrease inmate population is by judges lowering enormous bonds for low income individuals who can’t pay and O.R. releases.

Kris Dugan