TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Some inmates could soon spend fewer days in jail after Pima County’s Board of Supervisors approved a proposal to bail them out.
Part of the effort is to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 within the prison facility, but only inmates who don’t pose a risk to the community would be eligible.
“People end up having to sit in jail for a long time when ultimately they were going to get released,” said Dean Brault, the County’s Public Defense Services Director.
According to Brault, inmates with minor crimes should spend less than 24 hours in jail, but instead are spending 7 weeks due to their inability to post bond.
“These people are losing their jobs, their housing, their cars, and sometimes their children to the foster care system. So all of those things have a ripple effect within our economy and society,” Brault added.
The county wants to provide up to $30,000 for bail bonds per case but not everyone would qualify.
“They cannot have any homicide charges, sex offenses or child exploitation charges. They can’t have any hold on them like immigration, or department of corrections hold or probation hold- or anything like that,” said Brault.
In his analysis, in 2017 the program would’ve saved more than 33,000 bed days and $3.3 million in taxpayer money.
“The jail estimates that it costs about 100 dollars a day to incarcerate someone for the second subsequent day. It costs more for the first day,” Brault said.
Officials said the money for the program will come from the County’s General Fund, which will be transferred to a nonprofit group- who will assist defendants at their initial court appearances.
“There’s no way for the money to disappear if the bonds get forfeited. They go to the Superior Court and come back to the county, and then the county deposits it back to the nonprofit,” said Brault.
The program is expected to launch this coming spring, and is estimated to reduce our county’s jail population by 5%.