A county pretrial release program may ease racial disparities at the Douglas County Jail, according to Corrections Director Mike Myers, who gave a monthly report to the Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

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The program gives judges more options to divert people from incarceration using sobriety tests and GPS monitoring, which Myers said saved more than 3,000 days worth of occupancy at the jail in June.

In previous months, Black individuals were underrepresented in the program. But in June, the portion of Black people in the program rose to about the same number of Black people incarcerated in the correctional facility, about 42%. 

“It’s a trend, I would say, albeit somewhat small: we are seeing more minorities placed on pretrial release as a percentage,” Myers said. “I’m still not gonna make any predictions in the long haul, it’s too early, but this early trend is one hoped-for outcome.”

The average daily population and total admissions to the jail both increased in June, which Myers said is typical for summer months though they’re trending lower than previous years. The minority population in the jail remained consistent at 65%, and 46% of the population was reported to be diagnosed with a mental illness.

Myers reported that the corrections department finished the fiscal year under budget. Despite improved staffing levels, Myers said $382,000 was spent on overtime costs in June for recertification training.

The Omaha City Council also met Tuesday to approve a Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) for a North Omaha neighborhood near 60th Street and Sorensen Parkway. Tuesday’s resolution also designated the area as extremely blighted, which allows homebuyers to apply for a state income tax credit and allows developers to apply for 20-year tax increment financing terms.

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