I am a retired parole/probation officer and mental health specialis. I?am an alcohol/drug counselor with 22 years experience. I have worked with criminal offenders in the federal, state and county corrections in jail and in an outpatient setting for 21 of those years.
Our agency provides alcohol and drug services for Drug Court and Community Corrections. How lucky we are to have a sheriff with enough understanding and foresight to explore and pursue an expansion of our jail, rather than build a much more expensive new facility. There is no doubt that we need more jail space.
Because of the need to uphold the law and hold offenders accountable, the jail has been over capacity for quite some time. Besides renting beds from Tillamook County, the Sheriffs Office uses numerous alternative methods of sanctions in lieu of jail beds.
Some of the methods include work crew, community service, court sitting, electronic monitoring/GPS tracking and intensified reporting to Community Corrections and Treatment. Despite these alternative sanctions, the jail is still forced to release offenders early because of lack of jail beds.
Most of the first-time offenders or those who commit lesser crimes are released and placed on Community Supervision directly from the court. The concern is with the inmates with significant criminal histories and repeat offenders. Unfortunately, the higher-risk criminal offenders are the ones who know they will likely be matrixed out for an early release, and commit crimes with that in mind.
Research shows that to change behavior, people respond to incentives and consequences. In Drug Court, we use a variety of incentives and a graduated scale of consequences, which include all of the aforementioned sanctions, up to and including jail.
The deputies who work at the jail are helpful and dedicated to meeting the needs of the community, however there are times when the jail is full and inmates need to be released without serving their full jail sentence. The bottom line is that if we want law enforcement to keep our county safe, the jail overcrowding and the need for more beds is here, whether we like it or not.
The most fiscally responsible manner to address this problem is by supporting a jail expansion.