MEDFORD, Ore. — Locals and law enforcement are expressing frustration after the weekend arrest and near immediate release of Robert Johannessen.
After allegedly trying to steal from two car lots, Robert Johannessen was arrested, released, and re-arrested after admitting he tried to steal again.
There are about 230 beds at the Jackson County Jail. The jail commander says those are almost always all assigned. Most suspects like Robert Johannessen who are lodged in the jail get ranked on what they call a matrix system. That system looks at the severity of the crime.
Person-crimes like assault or homicide are considered worse than property-crimes like theft or fraud. Officials say they also look at subjective things like if a suspect is acting unstable or indicates that they’ll commit more crimes if they’re let out.
They say every bed filled means one less suspect they can take in. That means sometimes letting out prisoners that seem likely to re-offend.
“Every time we get somebody in the back door, we have to make a decision on who we’re going to release,” explained Jail Commander Sgt. Dan Penland. “Is the person who says he’s going to commit a crime, is he worse than the next person?”
Officials say not all suspects lodged are ranked by their matrix system. About a quarter of their prisoners are what they call non-matrix. That means the state or court system requires them to stay.
They also say each prisoner who stays costs a hundred dollars a night on average. The jail commander says they’re in the middle of an expansion project that would add over 60 new beds, but he says they don’t have the budget to hire the staff needed to support that expansion.