Tarrant County contracts with Tarleton to study jail population management

FORT WORTH (September 9, 2015) — Tarleton State University this fall begins an eight-month study to better manage incarceration at Tarrant County Jail facilities.

“We are excited to work with Tarrant County to make Fort Worth and surrounding cities better, safer places,” said Dr. Alex del Carmen, executive director of Tarleton’s School of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Strategic Studies.

“There are well-proven strategies to safely reduce local incarceration while reserving valuable jail space for offenders who pose the greatest risk to the community,” he said. “Our study will identify best methods and, working with county officials, we’ll create an action plan.”

Tarrant County Jail currently has the capacity to retain approximately 5,000 prisoners and is comprised of five facilities—the largest in downtown Fort Worth. Like others nationwide, Tarrant County Jail often serves as a detention center for low-risk individuals too poor to post bail or too sick for existing community resources to manage.

As part of its study, Tarleton will look at ways to better serve individuals with serious mental disorders, reduce the stay for nonviolent pretrial detainees and better prepare inmates for release without compromising public safety.

“Our partnership with Tarleton is much more than looking for ways to save taxpayer dollars,” explained Tarrant County Administrator G.K. Maenius. “It’s about making our jail an effective holding place and our community a safe place to live, work and raise our children.”

The study will cost $22,031 and will be led by Dr. Meghan Hollis, who joins Tarleton this fall as director of the Institute for Predictive and Analytical Policing Studies—one of four institutes within the School of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Strategic Studies.

Prior to joining Tarleton, Hollis served as an assistant professor at Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice, partnering with the Detroit Police Department Gang Intelligence Unit to conduct various research projects. She’s also worked with the police department in Quincy, Mass., as well as the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement in Amsterdam. Hollis earned her doctorate in criminology and justice policy from Boston’s Northeastern University.

“It is increasingly important for local jurisdictions, like Tarrant County, to partner with academics to examine and evaluate their crime prevention and intervention policies and programs,” Hollis said. “These partnerships allow jurisdictions to maximize their return on investment for taxpayer dollars spent, and they are more important now than ever as policymakers and elected officials work with limited budget dollars to maintain—and even improve—public safety.”

For more information on Tarleton’s School of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Strategic Studies, visithttp://www.tarleton.edu/COLFAWEB/criminaljustice/index.html.

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