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Pima County Sheriff Department Hires Jail Population Coordinator

Pima County has created a brand-new position to focus on the local jail population.

The Pima County jail coordinator is a job for someone to find low-risk offenders who are consistently in the justice system. Then, offer them help through agency partners and programs that would keep the person out of jail, lowering the recidivism rate.

Lt. Elsa Navarro oversees Pima County’s re-entry program. She says as the local population grows, so, too, does the jail population.

“We have to make sure that we’re balancing the amount of bed space available with those inmates that actually need to be here, versus those low-level, low-risk offenders who could still be out in the community, either working or participating in programs,” Navarro said.

Navarro said Pima County's jail currently holds about 1,800 people, making it about 70 percent full right now. She also said they plan to find people who would benefit from leaving jail and make recommendations to a judge, who would ultimately make the decision.

“We want to make sure that those people who use this place as a revolving door, so to speak, we want to make sure that we give those people an opportunity to get out from under that and take advantage of these programs so that they don’t have to be involved in the justice system.”

Navarro said many people booked in jail are on or detoxing from opiates, which require more medical attention.

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Casey Kuhn reports from KJZZ’s West Valley Bureau. She comes to Phoenix from the Midwest, where she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.Kuhn got her start in radio reporting in college at the community public radio station, WFHB. She volunteered there as a reporter and worked her way up to host the half-hour, daily news show. After graduating, she became a multimedia reporter at Bloomington's NPR/PBS station WFIU/WTIU, where she reported for and produced a weekly statewide news television show.Since moving to the Southwest, she’s discovered a passion for reporting on rural issues, agriculture and the diverse people who make up her community.Kuhn was born and raised in Cincinnati, where her parents instilled in her a love of baseball, dogs and good German beer. You’ll most likely find her around the Valley with a glass of prosecco in one hand and a graphic novel in the other.She finds the most compelling stories come from KJZZ’s listeners.