Jail Overcrowding

A local news station in Bannock County, Idaho published an article on how one problem, COVID-19, has solved another problem, overcrowding, in their county jail. Sheriff Lorin Nielson recounts how Bannock County Jail is much too small for the number of people being kept there. The jail has seen overcrowding for six or seven years according to Nielson. This overpopulation problem has caused chaos in the jail, including riots, fights and major lack of space for inmates. Additionally, the funding to build a new, larger jail is not possible as it is not appealing to county taxpayers.

However, COVID-19 seems to be helping reduce the jail population.  The courts have been sending people home on what they call “their own recognizance”, which is a no-cash bail system. Instead of sitting in jail until they are able to post bail, they are being sent home without having to pay a bail fee. People being sent home are normally incarcerated for a DUI or misdemeanor violations, including technical ones. With these people being able to go home, there has been a major reduction in overcrowding and unnecessary individuals in jail. Usually, the jail reaches capacity at 333 people but last Wednesday reported there were only 250 people incarcerated. This has been the lowest number of people incarcerated in a while says Sheriff Nielson.

Also, “own recognizance” is helping contain the spread of COVID-19, as it mitigates officers, personnel and inmates being exposed to new people coming in who may have the disease. This keeps everyone safer and helps reduce contact between individuals. The new policy is helping reduce overcrowding and keep people safer in uncertain and hard times.


Jail Overcrowding, Justice Reform

Recently, a coalition of criminal justice reform groups have come out with a list of recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Slowly, inmates and prison employees are beginning to test positive for the fast spreading coronavirus. Because of this the reform groups have created a plan referred to as “SAFER”. They are fighting to suspend jail time for technical violations and suspend probation office visits and payments of fines. They are encouraging the adoption of smart alternatives to incarceration. And they are pushing to provide free medical visits and treatment, hand sanitizer, soap, and protective gear to help prevent the spread. Extra precautions for guards and staff are being initiated and the release of the elderly and vulnerable to home confinement is being advocated for. 


“People in prisons, jails, or under community supervision are more at risk of contracting and spreading the virus, given their age, underlying health conditions, and close contact to each other”, says Jessica Jackson, Chief Advocacy Officer at REFORM Alliance. Protecting inmate populations is just as vital to stopping the spread of coronavirus and keeping communities safe. REFORM Alliance created “SAFER” in the hopes of helping to do this as it was developed in consultation with medical and justice system experts. COVID-19 is continuing to spread quickly and it is in the best interest of communities to not allow prisons and jails to become hot spots for the virus. 


Community Supervision, Public Safety

Like you, TRACKtech is closely monitoring the constantly evolving situation, both internally and externally, as it relates to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Though there is significant uncertainty, we remain committed to supporting the industry we serve by providing solutions that focus on the health and safety of the corrections agencies, staff, clients and public. We understand that our ability to assist you in facing these challenges, is critical and we stand ready to step in with that assistance wherever we are needed.


With the recent quarantines and lockdowns, exploring innovative community supervision is more important than ever. Officers need tools to effectively supervise their clients and to provide them with access to rehabilitative resources and support in a socially responsible manner.


Thankfully, leveraging technology, officers can adapt to the speed of rapidly changing circumstances, and safely connect with clients to keep them on track with remote meetings, check-ins, and other online services. And with partners such as Cisco, rapid deployment is available to implement remote communication.

Take a look at how technology is moving forward to continue making a difference in individuals’ lives during a crisis like this.


Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

The coronavirus crisis has already taken a toll on an individual’s mental health and addictions. While being self-quarantined, we encourage you to stick to your recovery plan with the help of online resources, including the following.

Recovery Dharma Online organizes daily meetings accessible via computer, smartphone, or dial-in. Together we meditate, study Buddhist teachings, and support each other on our paths to sobriety and peace.

Your guide to alcoholism drug addictions help and information. is a community of over 168,000 recovering alcoholics, recovering addicts, recovering co-dependents and their friends, family and loved ones.

In The Rooms hosts over 130 live video meetings every week for AA, NA, SAA, CPA, ACA and CODA.

ANXIETY – 7 science-based strategies to cope with coronavirus anxiety.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – Create a safety plan.

John Hopkins University has a COVID-19 Resource Center to help answer all your coronavirus questions.

What is Social Distancing and How Can it Slow the Spread of COVID-19

The Best Ways to Protect Yourself