Objectives: We sought to develop a detailed description of the variety of jail release patterns and to learn what factors affect the length of stay (LOS).
Methods: The main data set for the study came from a biennial Bureau of Justice Statistics survey on felony defendants in large urban counties.
Results: The median LOS for the felony defendants was 7 days. One quarter of the jails had a median LOS of less than 2 days; median LOS for 75% of the jails was less than 15 days. Median regression showed that male gender, previous arrests, and violent charges were predictive of longer LOS.
Conclusions: The diversity in release patterns among jails has not been previously described. A public health intervention feasible in one jail may not be feasible in another because of the heterogeneity of release patterns. Individual inmate characteristics could predict a slower rate of release.