Dallas County Jail Population Dips to Historic Low, and Officials Disagree About Why

The Dallas County Jail reached a historic milestone this week: With 4,893 inmates, its population dipped to its lowest level "to date," officials said, though they disagreed as to why. The 8,300-bed jail used to routinely cram 10,000 prisoners onto floors in the 1980s, said Commissioner John Wiley Price. In recent years, the typical population hovered above 6,000 inmates, and in the past year, the number fell to 5,500. The reduction has meant big savings for the county, Price said. The jail cost $11 million to run per month over the past year, but last month, it cost under $9 million. "I must be getting ready to have a heart attack," Price joked. There are many factors at play, officials said, from people bailing out family members for Christmas, to judges working harder during election season, to Dallas police being understaffed. In mass emails, though, Dallas County officials took a victory lap claiming credit for the reduction. Since 2012, the county has made lowering the jail population a top priority to cut costs, for both the county and for people arrested on minor offenses. They say they have added diversion programs, streamlined booking and court processes, updated software and increased the use of electronic ankle monitors.   Continue reading...

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