Jackson County Sheriff addresses state corrections funding cuts

Sheriff Sickler says it is "counterintuitive" to reduce funding that tries to stop the "revolving door" of the criminal justice system.

Posted: Aug 29, 2019 10:55 AM
Updated: Aug 29, 2019 3:39 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler released a statement today reacting to proposed state cuts that would affect criminal justice programs — programs that are designed to reduce the county jail and state prison populations. 

Sheriff Sickler says while Jackson County will not receive full funding, it will be able to "avoid a reduction in corrections services". 

In his statement, Sickler primarily reacts to a recent article published by The Oregonian. The Oregonian article discusses concern over losing $5.4 million dollars in Multnomah County. That loss in funding would lead to cutting the number of parole and probation staff, the loss of 73 jail beds and elimination of some treatment programs.

There would be about a 6 percent reduction in the Multnomah County Jail's capacity.  

In The Oregonian article, it states that the Multnomah county jail would be at "95 percent capacity daily requiring 'significant emergency releases of inmates.'" 

Sheriff Sickler says he doesn't want to make "light of the situation in Multnomah County," but he says Jackson County is already dealing with that reality. 

Sickler says the action of a "forced released," which is when the jail is at or reaching capacity, is "normal" here. Sickler says the Jackson County jail operates at "95 percent capacity every day." 

In his statement, Sheriff Sickler then makes a comparison between Jackson and Multnomah counties. Sickler cites the population of Multnomah County as nearly four times the population of Jackson County. Sickler says Multnomah county reported 186 forced releases in 2018. In that same year Jackson County had 5,300 forced releases. So with a smaller overall population, Jackson County is having to make a staggering more amount of forced releases per year because of a lack of jail space. 

Sickler says over the last few years the number of forced releases in Jackson County is going down, but it is still an issue. Sickler says "the 2018 total was a reduction from approximately 7,000 in 2017 and 8,600 in 2016." This year Jackson County is on pace for about 4,050 forced releases, which is a significant improvement. 

Sheriff Sickler says he is working with "community partners to work with the limited jail space" available in Jackson County. He says he is working on ways to fund a "new, effective corrections facility".

You can read Sheriff Sickler's full statement here

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