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Study: County jail stays longer, booking rates drop

Suggests that the increase in stays is due to fewer but more serious bookings

By C1 Staff

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — A report released this month revealed an interesting trend in the Allegheny County Jail: book rates have dropped, but the average length of an inmate’s stay has increased.

These findings and more were presented in “Changing Trends: An Analysis of the Allegheny County Jail Population,” according to the Post-Gazette.

Prepared by the Office of Data, Analysis, Research and Evaluation, the report also states that men made up 82 percent of bookings between 2000 and 2011, with rates for African American men ages 20 through 34 exceeding a rate of 200 per 1,000 members of the population.

The report covered 2000 through 2012, using data from the county jail, Human Services department, the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Report and the U.S. Census.

District Court Administrator Claire Capristo said that one of the jail’s biggest challenges was having accurate data, hence the creation of this report.

Between 2000 and 2011, jail stays increased from a median of 38.1 days to 58.3 days, while bookings decreased from 70 a day to 44.7.

The report attributes the drop in bookings to two changes in criminal justice policy. Pennsylvania law now requires police release, rather than book, a defendant in some cases, including for DUI charges. Such charges account for about 5,000 arrests annually in the county.

It also suggests that the increase in stays is due to fewer but more serious bookings.