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.

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