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Police change policy, more arrests likely

Jails in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, may become a little tighter in the time to come. According to reports, the Baton Rouge Police Department is changing its policies and will begin arresting more individuals in lieu of simply giving them a ticket. The change is effective immediately and tickets, also known as misdemeanor summonses, may be handed out on fewer occasions.

Misdemeanor charges can be given out as tickets, forcing a reported violator to appear in court after they have signed the ticket. According to reports, a ticket is like being arrested without being taken into custody. An official with the police department discussing the policy change said that any individual that would normally be given a ticket would be run through the system. If an officer finds that the individual has other misdemeanor violations that have not been addressed, the person will be taken into custody.

Authorities believe that this initiative will help contribute to a decrease in violence in Baton Rouge.

The change means that more people will be heading to jail instead of receiving a ticket. Opponents of the policy modification, including the executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, believe that this will cause many negative effects including overcrowding in jails. Overcrowding will cause the conditions of jails to decline because more people often translates to an increased likelihood for violence and a decreased amount of space.

More people in jail also means more costs to the public via tax dollars. In addition to these consequences, the executive director said that arresting and jailing a person over a misdemeanor would give criminal records to more individuals. These criminal records may hold the arrested individuals back from getting and keeping a job, potentially forcing them to support their family by committing more serious crimes.

She also commented on Louisiana already having the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Source: WAFB, "Misdemeanors could mean ticket to jail, effective immediately," Jim Shannon, Aug. 23, 2012

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