As incarceration rates drop in Washington’s urban and suburban areas, police in rural areas are booking more people into jail often for minor offenses.

Lauren Patterson has the story as a professor of sociology at Washington state University Jennifer Schwartz started to notice a pattern in her research: while urban area incarcerations in Washington are going down, the number of people imprisoned in rural areas is going up.

Jennifer Schwartz.

“It wasn’t the serious transgressions or the serious criminals that are a danger to the community that kept coming back in. It was the sort of minor transgressions that kept the revolving door spinning,” Schwartz said.

Those minor offenses include things like driving with a suspended license or not showing up in court.

Schwartz and her colleague Jennifer Sherman received a three-year grant to continue researching rural incarceration. They hope to find potential solutions for policymakers.

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