Conditions in Local Jails Remain Inadequate Despite Federal Funding for Improvements

GGD-76-36: Published: Apr 5, 1976. Publicly Released: Apr 5, 1976.

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Questions are raised concerning whether Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) funds should be spent to improve local jails that remain inadequate even after Federal funds are spent.

Inadequate physical conditions and lack of services are still problems in local jails. The lack of action in some communities to correct these problems has led the courts to order communities to either improve the conditions in local jails or close them. Such court action indicates the general lack of priority given the problem by executive agencies at all levels of government. Both the LEAA and the States have emphasized community-based correction programs as alternatives to incarceration. But even recognizing that emphasis should be given to improving other aspects of the corrections system, the lack of progress in improving local jails is disconcerting, as is the fact that in many cases LEAA funds have been used for minor improvements and repair of jails. Such actions have undoubtedly improved the jails, but from an overall standpoint the impact on their condition has been insignificant. The problem calls for some national leadership from LEAA. LEAA should consider what long-term role local jails should have in our correctional system based on research and evaluation and then adopt funding strategies to move the Nation toward that end.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the LEAA Administrator to: (1) analyze LEAA's position regarding the way local jails should be used in the entire correctional effort, including a study of the barriers to establishing regional facilities and the means to overcome these barriers; (2) establish, in conjunction with the States, minimum standards for physical conditions of local jails that must eventually be met if LEAA moneys are provided to improve such jails and require, as a condition of awarding any such funds, that the communities seeking such awards submit a plan detailing what actions, over a specified period would be taken to bring the jail up to the established standards; (3) establish, in conjunction with the States, minimum standards as to the services needed for different types of offenders in local jails and the types of community assistance that jail administrators should seek; and (4) institute procedures using resources within LEAA regional offices to act as catalysts to encourage State and local officials to seek out community resources for services for inmates in local jails.

    Agency Affected:


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