MEDFORD, Ore. — After two years, and more than $2 million, work is done on a new addition to the Jackson County Jail.
Sheriff Mike Winters and jail staff officially unveiled the new space, located in the jail’s basement. The area had previously been used as office space for the sheriff’s office. 62 more inmates will be housed at the jail, which means the entire jail can now hold a maximum of 239 inmates. Jail staff hope it will cut down on the number of criminals cited and released.
The new wing also has access to a recreation yard, medical rooms, and video arraignment. Staff said it will improve safety measure by keeping inmates limited in where they can go.
“In the old part of the jail that was designed many years ago, you had to move the inmates everywhere,” said Lt. Dan Penland. “This area is designed so we’ve minimized the movement, which increases the safety of the facility and the deputies working here.”
The $2.7 million project was paid for through county capital project funds. The jail has hired seven additional employees to staff the wings, but while those deputies are being trained, current employees are having to put in overtime to watch over those inmates.
“Right now we’re incurring some overtime because the deputies aren’t quite fully trained, so we’re staffing with a little bit of overtime,” Penland said.
Sheriff’s Lieutenant Bob Sergi, who is running against Sheriff Mike Winters in May’s election, criticized the decision to open the new jail addition now. He said the jail doesn’t have the personnel to open it without being put on mandatory overtime, and he said the sheriff’s office should have waited four months to train new employees.
“It’s interesting, the timing of it,” he said.
Ashland Police Deputy Chief Corey Falls, the third candidate for sheriff, did not return multiple calls for comment.