ASHLAND, Ore.-- In a 5-1 vote, the Ashland City Council voted to join the Jail Service District. Joining means council members voted to give its voters the opportunity to decide whether or not Jackson County need another jail during the next election.
The Ashland City Council Chambers was full of people on Tuesday night. Only a few people spoke and said the jail was necessary. The rest were against a new and bigger jail, saying there aren't enough resources to address mental health and illnesses, homelessness, and addiction.
"If we took all of the effort to take care of addiction, mental health, homelessness, we wouldn't need a bigger jail," Gina Duqueene said to the councilmembers.
Many of the council members agreed. Some even admitted if the jail is on the May 2020 ballot, they wouldn't vote for it. Five members of the Ashland City Council ultimately decided that a new jail was up to Ashland and the rest of Jackson County voters.
"I think we should give people the opportunity to vote 'yes' or 'no,'" said Councilmember Rich Rosenthal. "That's all we're being asked to do tonight."
"I think the Ashland City Council made the right decision," added Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler. "That this matter is for all of Jackson County to consider and that it shouldn't stop with a small group of people when this is a county service and that everyone recognizes is a big need in our community but there's also this social service that people want included in the jail plan."
The Medford and Central Point city councils still need to vote to join the Jail Service District as well. Both city councils are expected to do so within the next two weeks. If both cities vote to join, the proposal still needs to go to the Jackson County Commissioners. Then, the jail heads to voters on the May 2020 ballot.