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Sheriff: Fewer Inmates Being Released from Jail Due to Overcrowding

The number of inmates released early from the Jackson County jail saw a dramatic spike in 2017. Now those numbers are beginning to decline.

Posted: Jun 26, 2018 11:49 AM
Updated: Jun 26, 2018 11:50 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Last year, the number of inmates who gained early release from the Jackson County jail reached a fever pitch, with over 3,000 such releases in the first few months of the year. Now, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO), those numbers are starting to settle once more.

There are two breeds of early release, according to JCSO. A "forced release" means that an inmate is let go because there simply is no more space in the jail.

Jackson County Jail Release Statistics (January 1 - May 31)

 

Year

Forced/Capacity Release

Risk Release TOTAL
2018 1184 1215 2399
2017 1953 1184 3137
2016 1192 1527 2719
2015 424 1448 1872

A "risk release" means that jail officials have evaluated the nature of an inmate's crimes, their criminal history, and their likelihood of appearing in court by using a "formula," and have determined them to be at low risk of causing further harm or failure to appear in court.

JCSO says that risk releases allow the jail to reduce the number of forced releases—and hopefully ensure that the more dangerous characters stay in jail.


See the table on the right for statistics from JCSO regarding jail releases since 2015.


In 2017, total early releases reached 3,137 between January and the end of May. This year, those numbers are down to 2,399.

What has made the difference? It isn't necessarily any reduction in crime. According to Sheriff Nathan Sickler, the jail reopened their basement level in April of 2017 (near the end of the period reported), increasing their capacity from 230 to 292. However, Sickler says, there are no more ways to add additional beds at the current jail facility.

Enter JCSO's "Top 5" chronic failure-to-appear offender program that started this year. “The Chronic FTA program is another example of how we are finding ways to get the best use of the resources we have,” said Sickler.

Much like the jail tries to release low-risk offenders, they are now trying to prioritize high-risk offenders—maintaining just enough space at the jail to take in and hold people with (in many cases) upwards of five outstanding arrest warrants until they can be processed through the courts.

JCSO reports that Sickler is pleased with the results that the Top 5 program and addition of beds has gotten them, but he says that there is still much to be done to fix the "revolving door" problem.

“Thousands of inmates are still being released back into the community before going to court, only to commit more crimes. We are working on finding a sustainable solution to this problem to reduce the crime rate and increase liveability in Jackson County,” Sickler said.

Sickler has been pushing for the construction of a new jail for months. In March of 2018, JCSO commissioned a survey for county residents to determine if they would vote in favor of a $100 million bond to pay for the new jail. Voters on the informal survey turned it down, causing JCSO to perform a tactical withdrawal on the issue.

However, the dream of a new jail remains. The JCSO website features a page justifying the new jail project—even providing answers to a number of "frequently asked questions."

"In 2017, the jail handled approximately 14,000 lodgings," the new jail page reads. "About half were released before they could appear in court or pay bail, due to capacity restrictions."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5057759

Reported Deaths: 74098
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152224027074
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581499
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus910641413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058627
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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