Jails are big expenses to the taxpayers, and Sarasota County has been working hard for creative and efficient solutions to put off building another jail.
Programs have included efforts to speed up the criminal justice court process, reducing the time required for defendants to be behind bars, to efforts to treat people with addiction problems at secure, but less expensive drug and alcohol treatment facilities, such as First Step.
Pre-trial screening programs that run 24 hours a day, and Friday sweeps to process and clear out minor misdemeanor offenders or minor probation violations before the weekend, and weeks before cases are ultimately resolved are also showing real benefits.
Jail is a significant expense to a community. The need for 24 hour guards, not to mention maintenance, food, laundry, and basic needs for the inmates can be huge. But besides the cost savings to the community, these program have a significant side-effect of actually being fairer and more humane to people caught up in the Florida criminal justice system.
No one wants to compromise the security of the community, but these moves try to strike a balance between efficiency and justice.
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