Diversity of release patterns for jail detainees: implications for public health interventions

Am J Public Health. 2011 Dec;101 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S347-52. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2010.300004. Epub 2011 Oct 28.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prisoners*
  • Prisons*
  • Public Health
  • Time Factors
  • United States