SHELBY CO., Tenn. (localmemphis.com) — A new position within the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office aims to reduce the jail population and getting people help in the process, all while trying to save taxpayer dollars.
In late June SCSO announced it added an Expeditor position. Appointed to the role was former judge and Memphis attorney Mischelle Best.
Best’s job focuses on looking for people that don’t need to be in jail and getting them through the system process quicker to cut down the number of inmates.
The jail can house upwards of 2,500 inmates on any given day.
“I think it’s more so to get people through the system to justice as quick as we can and get people back on the street or get back to doing their time they’re supposed to be doing. Try and take away some of the kinks of making the process a little bit smoother,” Best said.
On most days, Best said she goes through the jail docket looking for people who have very low jail bonds, such as $100. That’s a general indicator that the offense could be a simple misdemeanor crime.
Rather than let them continue to sit in jail, Best said she tries to move their case along quickly. That means getting them court-appointed attorneys and hopefully out of jail.
“Some people are doing things because they don’t have money. They don’t have the services. They don’t know what’s available and then we meet with people sometimes who don’t have the know how or means to do certain things,” Best said. “So, if I can intervene and try to help that person, that person will hopefully never come back here again.”
Best said her role is also about trying to get to the root of that individual’s problem and addressing it. For example, a mental health crisis.
“We need to get this person the help they need so we try and get those people moved to the facilities or provide the services. Some people need mental health treatment so we try and get them to the services. A lot of stuff is free but you need to get people connected to the right folks,” Best said.
SCSO Captain Anthony Buckner adds, it can also reduce the costs of housing inmates. He said it costs $90 a day to house an inmate that could be sitting there only with a $100 bond. That cost can add up quickly for an individual who is better suited not being jail.