To the Editor:
Is it wise to downsize the Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) program? Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank wants to cut funding for this program by 80 percent. The program was intended to reduce the jail population by focusing on drug addiction in particular, thus preventing the need for building more expensive jail space in the future.
For those who have not kept up with these developments, the ATI program was put in place in Anderson County a year ago by Mike Baker, a longtime officer in the Iowa corrections system. His analysis of Anderson County’s constantly increasing number of jail inmates points to several problems, one of which is “recidivism” (when a former prisoner returns to jail).
He commented that “Anderson County has a tremendously high recidivism rate. When I looked at the jail stats this morning, the average number of ‘priors’ for the 348 inmates incarcerated was nearly 10, while the average age of the inmates is 31. Those numbers indicate that inmates between the ages of 18 and 31 are being arrested on average nearly once each year.” [Read more…]