The Shelby County Jail is notorious for its past and present overcrowding. Two or three people in cells the size of closets. Inmates in bunks in the gymnasium.
But on Friday, the county submitted a population-management plan for the Shelby County Jail.
"We enlarged the plan that [county jail consultant] Arnett Gaston gave us," said county attorney Kathleen Spruill, "and we got input from the community to address a broad range of ways to reduce the jail's population."
The report suggested ways such as establishing a time frame for case disposition, reducing pre-sentence investigation time, and looking at expanding the existing drug court. Because a jail's population is dependent upon both the number of inmates arrested and how long they stay in the facility, all segments of the criminal justice process need to be assessed.
Another suggestion that the report felt would be viable for the county was to speed up probation violation hearings. The report noted that people who violate parole often have to wait an inordinate amount of time before a sentencing judge can schedule a hearing.
And it seems as if the county is trying to set an example. Spruill noted that they were ahead of schedule in developing and submitting the plan. The county should start implementing some of the practices by next spring.
The report noted it would not be easy, however.
"While many jurisdictions have had measurable success in reducing their jail populations," it read, "it is noteworthy that most are still not satisfied and Shelby County should be of the same frame of mind in order to have long-term success."
At the time of this writing, there are 1,953 inmates housed in the jail facilities.