County Officials Approve Jail Plan

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Now that construction is nearly complete on a 62 bed additions to the Jackson County Jail, county officials have approved a plan to help pay for its operation. They’ll do that by renting half the space to other agencies, including the City of Medford.

Work is wrapping up on a $1.5 million conversion of the basement of the Jackson County Jail into bed space for inmates. It used to house the sheriff’s office. To help pay for operation of that new space, the county is leasing or renting half the beds to the City of Medford and the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

“This will cover the operations of those additional expenses, including the hiring of new staff increases for food services and jail medical and transports and everything that goes along with managing the inmate population,” said County Administrator Danny Jordan.

“Quite honestly, with that remodel, if we weren’t receiving that additional revenue we wouldn’t be able to afford the personnel and all of the service that go with it to open those 60 beds,” said County Commissioner Don Skundrick.

Most of the work on the jail addition is completed now. Now the real job is to hire the staff so that they can open it. They hope to be able to have some of that staff hired and trained by the first of the year so the jail can be fully operational. Renting three beds to the City of Medford will help them keep troublesome offenders of the streets and pay for new staff.

“Currently the U.S. Marshal’s rent between 20 and 26 beds from us a day that are in operation already. So, these three additional beds will come out of those 62. So, here is bed space available for that,” said Jail Commander Lt. Dan Penland.

In fact, county officials say without the renting, there would not be money to open any of the new space. So now, the county will have 30 more beds, and other agencies will have that many as well. County Administrator Danny Jordan says the county is also negotiating with another city as well as another federal agency for the rental or lease of other jail bed space.