By Kelsey E. Thomas.
The White House wants to use data to help communities more smartly determine who should — and shouldn’t — be in jail.
The Data-Driven Justice Initiative announced Thursday aims to equip local and state governments to divert low-level offenders with mental illness out of the criminal justice system, and keep low-risk offenders from staying in jail simply because they can’t afford a bond.
Jail is expensive for municipalities. Every year, 11 million people move through local jail systems, costing local governments nearly $22 billion. Many of these people, particularly those with minor offenses and low-level, non-violent misdemeanors, could be better served elsewhere. In local jails, 64 percent of people suffer from mental illness and 68 percent have a substance abuse, according to the White House.
Seven states and 60 communities committed to DDJ, including New Orleans Parish, New York City, Denver, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Oakland.