Shelby County receives $350K grant to reduce jail population

Published: Oct. 4, 2017 at 2:29 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2017 at 5:19 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Sheriff's Office received $350,000 to implement criminal justice reforms.

The money is a federal grant designed to help local law enforcement agencies reduce over-incarceration. The grant is part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, which is a more than $100 million national initiative aimed at changing the way America thinks about incarceration and criminal justice.

Shelby County set a goal to reduce its jail population by 24 percent by 2019. In order to do that, it plans to cut down on unnecessary incarceration. As of now, 2,442 people are incarcerated in Shelby County jail--a mixture of inmates serving time and others awaiting for their day in court.

"Reducing case processing time is our biggest obstacle here in Shelby County," Katy Mack with Shelby County Sheriff's Office said.

Shelby County was selected in 2015 to be part of the Safety and Justice Challenge. Due to progress achieved, the program granted Shelby County and seven other counties additional funding Wednesday--bringing the total funding to around $600,000.

"We want to make sure that the people that are in our jail facility are the people that should be here. They are here for the violent crimes," Shelby County Criminal Justice Coordinator Chris Floyd said.

Mack said there is an overuse of incarceration for people who come in to jails across America, and that there's a nationwide shift of people taking a closer look at county jail populations.

"It's about fairness. It's about efficiency, and just making sure that you pay attention to all those front end processes because really the jail is sort of the end of the local criminal justice system," Mack said.

WMC Action News 5 learned there are several inmates who've been in the jail for five years waiting for their cases to move forward.

Shelby County is one of 20 locations in the country to receive this money to help drive down jail populations.

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