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American Jails: Raising the Research Profile

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 70 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2008 Pages: 72-74
Jeanne B. Stinchcomb; Susan W. McCampbell
Date Published
February 2008
3 pages
A recent project supported by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is identifying the most pressing issues for jails, so as to provide a foundation for future jail-related BJA funding priorities.
According to project focus groups, the priorities for jails revolve around the pressures of providing adequate inmate medical care and mental health services in the face of inadequate resources. In addition to this primary concern, jails are concerned about personnel issues that range from recruitment and retention difficulties to succession planning for the replacement of retirees. Leadership development and staff training are other personnel issues of concern. Other concerns identified by the project are reentry initiatives, dealing with security-threat groups, and technology issues. Small, mostly rural jails are seeking help in defining and implementing best practices, evidence-based approaches, and collaborative networking opportunities. Regardless of size, jail representatives indicated the need to educate their communities and elected officials about jail-related issues and their importance in the public policymaking agenda. In order to prioritize the challenges confronting American jails, 2 national focus groups (1 in the East and 1 in the West) were convened in 2007, bringing together 45 sheriffs and jail administrators from throughout the country. A detailed literature review and environmental scan were prepared for the groups. They focused on five areas deemed by researchers to be of primary interest. These were demographic projections and crime trends, work force issues, inmate management, special populations, and technology. 2 tables and 14 notes