People locked up in Nashville jails has dropped dramatically over the last decade as part of a concerted effort by the district attorney’s office.
New This Morning’s Nickelle Smith had a chance to speak with DA Glenn Funk about how they’re doing this.
Nickelle Smith: Good morning. It’s about trying to reduce mass incarceration in Nashville stone. Now I want to first start with giving you a look at the latest numbers. According to the district attorney’s office, the daily population of locally incarcerated inmates fell from about 3100 per day in 2013 to less than 1500 today. They see this is a savings to Nashville taxpayers of a $155,000 per day and a yearly savings of more than 50 million dollars. I talked with Nashville’s District Attorney General Glenn Funk who says this has been a big priority for him since taking office.
He credits the decrease to innovations like the Steering Clear Program which reformed how the DA’s office handle people were cited for driving on a revoked license. Another new policy was ending the prosecution of less than a half ounce of marijuana.
District Attorney Glenn Funk: We’ve been taking a very serious approach toward trying to make sure that we reserve the severe sanction of incarceration for people that we are afraid of. There were a lot of them minor offenses, nonviolent offenses, things like the simple possession of marijuana, driving on a revoked license for which in the past, Nashville and still in many other places around the country, people are incarcerated in a way that does not promote public safety.
Nickelle Smith: Funk says as we get into 2020, a big goal for his office this year is trying to reform how mental health cases are handled in the criminal justice system.