First step towards criminal justice reform taken

By Duwayne Escobedo

Escambia County Corrections director Tamyra Jarvis and her staff presented three possible programs to reduce the inmate population, lower the number of inmates who return to jail and save taxpayers money during the first Public Safety Coordinating Council subcommittee meeting Tuesday.

They presented the Alternative Sanctioning Program, Day Reporting Community Corrections Program and a Jail Re-Entry Program all of which the county lacks today.

Additionally, subcommittee chairman, Escambia County Circuit Court Judge Tom Dannheisser proposed implementing a Fatherhood Initiative.

Most of the nearly 90-minute meeting at the M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building was spent discussing the Day Reporting program. It is a more intensive version of probation with inmates meeting with corrections staff three times a week and being offered education, job training and help with housing among other services.

The voluntary program initially could handle up to 80 inmates by a corrections department office staffed with two corrections officers, an administrator and administrative assistant. The program estimated to cost $60 per month per inmate would rely on a majority of its funding from grants. The corrections department plans to hire a grant writer.

With about 1,520 inmates today, Jarvis said the program would grow “over time.”

“Those who have more supervision seem to do better,” added Tammie Booker with corrections. “It makes them feel empowered to want to be successful.”

Dannheisser proposed to the subcommittee starting a Fatherhood Initiative. He pointed out more than half of youth in Escambia County lack fathers. He said it’s the main reason jail cells are bursting with inmates.

National studies and organizations support his assertion showing young men who grow up without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail. Meanwhile, 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes.

“An intact family is the best anti-poverty, anti-crime system ever devised,” Dannheisser said. “It’s the elephant in the room. The numbers are undeniable.”

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2 thoughts on “First step towards criminal justice reform taken

  1. Rich, most are required to pay child support. The problem is that most all of them have no job. They are arrested for nonpayment. The Judge can only keep them in jail for 180 days by law. Just about every one that is arrested has a purge to pay if they want to get out of jail. It is their bond if you will. Most are $300.00 to $2000 to get out. Out of that, the arresting agency gets $70 for picking them up. Oh, and you only mentioned Moms. Well let me tell you that a large part of those arrestees are Females too with purges. These you want arrested are in fact helping to clog our jails up. There is a $20 booking fee for each arrested and charged $3.00 a day for everyday they are in jail (which is the same for all arrestees or other crimes that are brought in for booking). Guess how many pay the purge and fees? Now you know the rest of the story.

  2. This may sound racist, but it is not meant to be. I see single moms in walmart dragging around 3 and 4 kids all below the age of 7 or 8. Then they pay with food stamps. My question is why is there no attempt to find the fathers of these children and make them support their own.

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