The St. Louis County jail—like jails across the country—is full. County officials recognize that it doesn’t need to be. About 92 percent of the jail population is on pretrial detention or awaiting a hearing on a probation violation. The county has identified a groundbreaking approach to cut the number of inmates in the county jail by 15-19 percent while improving public safety. Instead of sitting in jail, these people will be productive members of the community.
The key elements of this unique approach include:
- Expanding a pretrial release program for carefully screened individuals;
- Implementing a speedy hearing process for those with technical probation violations; and,
- Helping municipal courts promote better understanding of procedures and easier access to court information for defendants
The University of Missouri-St. Louis has led the collection of information and data analysis instrumental in the development of these programs. The University has also shared its expertise in procedural justice. Many of the programs have been piloted and have shown promising results. To continue building on past reform efforts, St. Louis County was awarded $2.25 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge in 2016 to invest in these and other steps to further reduce the average daily jail population over the next two years.
This work will result in evidence-based, gender responsive practices that can be used as models across the country.