For years, Wayne County has been working to resolve longstanding problems of overcrowding and challenging conditions in the Wayne County Jail. The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) was engaged by the Hudson-Webber Foundation to conduct a study of how Wayne County uses its jail facilities in conjunction with a working group of Wayne County justice system stakeholders (the “Working Group”), which includes representatives from the Wayne County Executive’s Office; the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office; the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office; the Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association; the Neighborhood Defender Service; the Detroit Police Department; the 3rd Circuit Court; the Wayne County Probate Court; the 23rd, 29th, and 36th District Courts; the State Court Administrative Office; the Wayne County Board of Commissioners; the Detroit Wayne County Mental Health Authority; Wayne State University; Team Wellness; the Detroit Rescue Mission; the Flinn Foundation; and the Hudson-Webber Foundation.

The study involved analyzing quantitative data from the jail as well as gathering information and perspectives from the Working Group, community advocates, and people directly impacted by jail incarceration to identify what drives the jail population in Wayne County. The analysis included the most common charges people in jail face, and how long people stay in the jail and why. The findings in this report highlight that there are many opportunities to prevent the unnecessary use of jail and support the county’s interest in safety and fairness.