MEDFORD, Ore. – Some creative reorganization at the jail is allowing Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) officials to keep more inmates locked up. The change increases overall capacity and lowers the number of inmates released due to overcrowding, especially during the crucial nighttime hours.
By adding eight beds and moving female inmates to the basement level, officials have been able to raise the daytime capacity to 300 inmates – an increase from the previous capacity of 292. At night, the jail can hold up to 315 inmates.
The changes mean that jail officials are less likely to be forced to release inmates in the middle of the night. This keeps released inmates from wandering nearby neighborhoods, and gives them an opportunity to proceed directly to local services during operating hours.
“We are always looking for ways to make the best use of the space we have, while being mindful of how the jail affects the greater community,” said Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler.
Sheriff Sickler says JCSO is actively integrating more mental health services into the jail. They are also working with Jackson County Community Justice and other partners on a concept to connect inmates with resources upon their release from jail.
“The program will be a great opportunity for inmates who are ready to accept help for needs such as housing, employment, or treatment,” Sickler said.
Sheriff Sickler says the added capacity and partnerships help, but he stresses that it is a partial fix to a bigger problem. Current jail space is limited to the current structure; a larger, more modern jail facility is needed for the local criminal justice system to be effective.
JCSO officials are working on plans to secure a site and identify the most efficient jail design. Meanwhile, they continue to work with county officials to find ways to secure funding for the project in a way that would have the least impact on taxpayers.
“A larger jail would allow us to hold criminals accountable and keep them longer to give them a chance to take advantage of the services they need,” said Sickler.