Josephine County Sheriff's Office issued an explanation regarding the termination of their contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house ICE detainees.
Before voters approved a Corrections Levy in May of 2017, the Josephine County Sheriff's Department was struggling with their budget. The contract with ICE was helping to fund the jail.
As of May 2018, Josephine and Wasco were the only county jails housing ICE detainees.
Earlier this week, the Springfield City Council voted unanimously to end their ICE contract with the Springfield Police Department's municipal jail.
KDRV contacted the Josephine County Sheriff’s department Tuesday to inquire if they were still housing ICE detainees and were told the contract ended in May. We were later told that a statement regarding the end of the contract would be issued this morning.
The following press release was issued by the Josephine County Sheriff's Office this morning.
On May 31st, 2018 Josephine County terminated its contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement otherwise known as “ICE”. Historically the Sheriff’s Office would hold from 2 to 5 illegal immigrants daily who have allegedly committed crimes in other areas of the west coast who are on transport to other facilities. These detainees were not typically from the Josephine County area. This decision had nothing to do with any sanctuary issue or designation provided by state law.
Three counties suffered lawsuits stemming from ICE detainees. Columbia County and Clackamas County have both paid out to detainees as a result of lawsuits. NORCOR in Wasco County currently has two pending lawsuits and is now the only county correctional institution in Oregon holding ICE detainees. Springfield Municipal Jail recently canceled their contract.
Another factor in terminating the contract was as a result of the passage of the Corrections Levy in May of 2017. Detainees were filling beds and as a result taking beds away from our local inmate population. The Josephine County Jail can now serve the county better by holding more of our own.
Lastly, risk versus reward. In the fiscal year 2016-17 the Sheriff’s Office received $45,000 in revenue from ICE which is not worth the risk of a lawsuit, difficulties in classification as detainees cannot be housed with anyone with a violent history and in addition, the contractual benefits detainees receive are above the local population.
The ICE contract is not to be confused with the US Marshall’s contract which provided $352,600 in revenue last fiscal year which the Josephine County Jail counts on to maintain operations.
The decision to terminate the ICE contact was not for political reasons, it was a business decision to reduce liability, increase operations and to better serve Josephine County citizens.