Beth Huebner talks progress in reducing the jail population on ‘St. Louis on the Air’

On Tuesday, Professor of Criminology and Criminal justice Beth Huebner spoke on St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU’s “St. Louis on the Air” about her efforts to reduce St. Louis County jail populations. (Photo by August Jennewein)

On Tuesday, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Beth Huebner spoke on St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU’s “St. Louis on the Air” about her efforts to reduce the St. Louis County jail population. (Photo by August Jennewein)

In a little more than a year, the St. Louis County jail population has dropped by 22 percent – from 1,242 in July 2019 to 983 in May, reports Missouri Lawyers Weekly.

This decline is thanks, in part, to Beth Huebner, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri–St. Louis who has been leading efforts to reduce county numbers since 2015.

These results come in the wake of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation extending funding in October 2018 to the tune of $2.25 million as part of the Safety and Justice Challenge. Huebner continues to lead research in collaboration with St. Louis County aimed at reducing the number of people in jail who are awaiting trial or with technical probation violations.

On Tuesday, Huebner spoke with new host Sarah Fenske on St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU’s “St. Louis on the Air” about the people who ends up in county jail, why reducing incarcerated populations is better for the community and the need to address racial and ethnic disparities, among other topics.

Huebner’s acutely aware of public concern over safety.

“We have to make sure the community is safe and people don’t flee,” she said. “At the same time, we know that even three days in jail – at pretrial people have not been convicted – can have a detrimental effect on your family relationships, your job. So, the goal has been to understand who is at greatest risk to the community? Who can be supervised in the community safely, and what’s the best way to do this?”

She’s found providing people with bus passes, text reminders for court dates and other services to be effective.

“We aren’t just opening the door of the jail and throwing people out on the street,” Huebner said. “They are linked with services, linked with experts to help them, but citizens should also understand that putting someone into jail for 100 days is a risk for that family and the community at large.”

Listen to their whole conversation here.

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Short URL: https://blogs.umsl.edu/news/?p=81271


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