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Arrest, Release, Repeat: How Police and Jails Are Misused to Respond to Social Problems

Prison Policy Initiative logoThis report from the Prison Policy Initiative, produced with support from the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, illustrates the use and misuse of local jails and covers how many people go to jail each year, how many return, and the underlying social issues that fuel this cycle. Of note, at least 4.9 million people are arrested and jailed each year, and at least one in four of those individuals are booked into jail more than once during the same year. Repeated arrests are related to race and poverty, as well as high rates of social, economic, and health issues, which the report argues should be addressed through expanding access to social services, especially health and mental health services; reducing the number of arrests; and creating pre-arrest diversion programs to address misuse of jails rather than relying on incarceration alone.