Does this Jail Trip Come with Frequent Flyer Miles, Officer?

It’s a safe bet that any cop in Kitsap County will tell you they deal day in and day out with many of the same individuals along the beat. Such repeat offenders are sometimes referred to as “frequent fliers,” in certain law enforcement circles, but whatever the name, they seem to log a lot of time in the backs of patrol cars headed south to the jail in Port Orchard.

More unorthodox forms of jurisprudence are springing up around the country to deal with these repeat offenders, USA Today reported Monday.

Here’s the trend, according to USA Today reporter Donna Leinwand:

Criminals who are arrested repeatedly for crimes such as public drunkenness, trespassing and panhandling are crowding jails and sapping police resources, officials say. The cost of handling small-time criminals who cycle in and out of jail is becoming a more pressing problem for communities as budgets tighten and jail populations swell.

The new courts sentence “frequent fliers” to treatment plans and social services, such as mental health and substance abuse treatment, instead of jail.

“It’s the new frontier,” says Amy Solomon, who studies criminal justice at The Urban Institute in Washington. “There is a new realization and recognition” that incarceration is not the best solution. “I think it’ll grow and continue to pick up.”

No word yet on whether this sort of thing will pick up in counties closer to Kitsap. But we’ll stay tuned.

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