A newly released report by the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Politics finds that incarceration in Allegheny County has increased significantly despite falling crime rates.
The criminal justice task force, co-chaired by Pitt law professor Mark Nordenburgh and former U.S. Attorney Frederick Thieman, found that in addition to the social costs of high incarceration rates, increases in the Allegheny County Jail population in the past 20 years have added $12 million per year to county taxpayer costs. Allegheny County spends 42 percent of its general fund on criminal justice, and a total of $80 million per year operating the county jail.
One culprit behind the inmate surge is the high percentage of non-convicted individuals being held in the jail — 81 percent of inmates have not been convicted of a crime. Most are awaiting trial, a probation hearing or transportation to another facility. The national average is 62 percent.
The report encouraged the county to reduce trial wait times and probation terms to be more in line with national averages. “We take away the rights of the individual to succeed when we use this type of [criminal justice] system,” Mayor Bill Peduto told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Read the report here.