Downtown Eugene

Budget bonus from state to open more Lane County Jail beds?

Budget bonus from state to open more Lane County Jail beds?

EUGENE, Ore. - Right on the heels of the voter approved Lane County Jail levy comes more good news.
Additional state money is going to local counties, in hopes of keeping more offenders from going to state prison.
The cash influx comes just as more beds are re-opening at the county jail.
It's from the Oregon Community Corrections Act, passed by the Legislature and it means all kinds of programs will benefit.

"It's great news for public safety in Lane County on top of the levy that was passed in May," explains Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken.
He says it will boost that pot of money by one third...money to support parole officers, supervision of inmates, crime victim services and possibly open more jail beds.
Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner tells KVAL News, "The idea is if you can treat people and supervise them effectively at the local level
many of them will not have to be sent to prison."

Local correctional programs also stand to receive some of the state money including the Sponsors program in Eugene.
Sponsors is the program that helps former state prison inmates readjust to life on the outside--with temporary housing and job hunting services.
Director Paul Solomon says the money couldn't come at a better time.  "Potentially it could add some staff positions back and allow us to open up more
beds for people released from state prison," says Solomon.

Commissioners also see a chance to use the money as leverage to press the feds to act on a final solution for public safety funding.
Sid Leiken concludes, "Does it get us out of the, completely out of this situation that Lane County is in right now?  No it doesn't, but it's a positive move forward."
Leiken adds he doesn't know how much of the money can be used to open more jail beds.
He says that's up to the sheriff and county administrator to determine.