Kansas county reduces jail overcrowding with alternatives to detention
Sedgwick County, Kan., has used a number of alternatives to detention in recent years to reduce its county jail population by 4 percent from last year, yielding savings for the county and slowing the need for future jail expansion. The Sedgwick County Day Reporting Center (DRC) provides a mix of services, including intensive case management, cognitive-behavioral treatment and training, to help break the cycle of recidivism.
The county built the DRC several years ago as part of its comprehensive plan to reduce jail overcrowding and incorporate research-based alternatives to detention. The county’s average daily population at the jail from January through May dropped from 1,603 inmates to 1,541 when compared to the same time frame last year. The DRC census grew from 132 to 301 in the same comparison.
The DRC costs about one-third the $66.20 daily expense to house an inmate in jail, and treatment at the DRC is successful in reducing recidivism rates, according to the county’s contractor on the project, Boulder, Colo.-based BI Inc. One study reviewed the arrest record for 84 clients who had been successfully discharged from the DRC program after 24 months. Of the 84, 39 had no arrests after discharge, according to BI Inc. In total, the arrest rate for the 84 had dropped 46.5 percent when compared to a 24-month period before discharge from the DRC. “As the Sedgwick County DRC matures, we are obtaining evidence that offender risk is being reduced when they participate in the DRC programs,” said BI Vice President of Reentry and Supervision Services John Thurston.
The Sedgwick County DRC was one of the first alternatives to detention the county implemented as part of the county’s Criminal Justice Comprehensive Master Plan. This plan acknowledged that the county was constantly facing jail overcrowding, rising costs and recidivism problems, and offered strategies for correcting those issues. The Sedgwick County Day Reporting Center manages a mix of participants, including offenders referred to the center instead of incarceration; sentenced offenders who are serving the remainder of their sentences in the community; individuals who have violated probation; and pretrial defendants.
Read more about the Sedgwick County Day Reporting Center.