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Adult Jail Population Reaches All-Time High

That may bring to mind jail overcrowding, but Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell says he saw that problem coming years ago.

The Justice Department says in 2003, 6.9 million men and women were either on probation, parole or incarcerated in U.S. prisons or jails. That's about three percent of the entire adult U.S. population.

Locally, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell says he saw the problem coming long ago.

"I've been saying for a couple of years through the county commission, be prepared, we will have to eventually expand the jail. We knew that when we built the jail. There is no one in the U.S. that I'm aware of that's down sizing," he says.

Campbell says specifically in Florida, jail overcrowding is partially an issue of policy.

"We're very fortunate in Florida to pass an 85 percent of your sentence bill. If you get caught doing something there are no more serving 10 days and getting out. As a result, the crime rate has been coming down, that's the great news. The bad part, the number in our institutions is rising."

Campbell says in an effort to free up jail space, offenders classified as "non-violent" are allowed to take part in work release programs where they go home during the night.

Jail administrators in other Florida counties have looked into transporting their inmates to neighboring counties where more jail space is available.

"We're running somewhere in the neighbor of 700 prisoners in average a month," adds Sheriff Campbell.

Just to put that number of 6.9 million in perspective, that's one out of every 32 adults.

Officials with the Taylor County Jail are awaiting word from Levy and Saint Lucie County officials about possibly receiving inmates in order to take advantage of Taylor County's extra jail space.


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