Overcrowding is the biggest problem at the jail [Letter]

December 21, 2013

The recommendation of a Maryland legislative commission to spend $533 million to replace part of the Baltimore City Detention Center should not be a priority in fixing the problems at the jail. A far more important goal would be to reduce overcrowding at the jail more quickly ("Lawmakers call for replacement of Baltimore jail," Dec. 11).

The incarceration rate in Baltimore City, according to a 2010 Sun report, was 6.3 per 1,000 residents, making it the second highest rate in the country after New Orleans. By comparison, the incarceration rate was 5.0 in the District of Columbia and 4.7 in New York City around the same time.

Moreover, in 2009 a report by the Pew Charitable Trust concluded that incarcerating fewer nonviolent offenders would make the city no less safe.

Daniel J. Safer, Baltimore

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