When considering the number of residents in jail per 100,000 people in a state, New Mexico and Georgia are at the top of the list.
The Prison Policy Initiative, a Massachusetts-based justice reform group, released its most recent study on Wednesday and the results were quite compelling for the Peach State. Whiel New Mexico had a jail incarceration rate of 340.8 per 100,000 residents four years ago, Georgia followed with the second highest rate of 317.3 per 100,000 residents.
The results were based on the number of people held in local jails in 2013, which have declined from their all-time high in the mid-1990s. Georgia’s prison incarceration rates, however, remain near their highest.
The number one finding of the study indicates that pre-trail detentions spurred jail growth, meaning, those sitting in jails awaiting trial caused an increase in population as the time between arrest and trial continues to increase.
Costs vary by county, but inmate costs per day can add up. In Decatur County in Southwest Georgia, it costs $33/day per inmate, leading to nearly $1,000 per month per inmate. In Baldwin County in Middle Georgia, that number is about $30/day. Similarly, Georgia pays almost $58/day to house state prisoners and in July of 2015, the Georgia Department of Corrections reported paying county jails $22/day to hold inmates awaiting transfer to a state facility.
Since 2013, New Mexico has instituted a series of reforms to reduce jail populations and while Georgia has instituted many justice reform initiatives, many are directed toward the state prison system, not local jails.