Jail officials on bed closures: 'They know we don't have the capacity'

Jail officials on bed closures: 'They know we don't have the capacity' »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - Less than an hour after the Lane County Jail released dozens of inmates Thursday morning, one man found himself back behind bars. 

Recidivists like that one exemplify the public safety implications behind the bed closures.

The county jail continues to shrink and it didn't take long for one of those ex-inmates to get into back into trouble. 

"I feel good ... feels good to be free." said former Lane County Jail inmate Ronald Swartz.

Swartz is one of 32 inmates released when the Lane County Jail closed as many jail beds on Thursday.

The cuts were made in the federal money from the U.S. Marshals office that funds the rented beds.

Less than an hour after being released at 11:00, one of the ex-inmates allegedly held up Pacific Continental Bank on 14th and High Street in Eugene.

Eugene Police identified him as 33-year-old Christopher Franklin Weaver.

Frustrated authorities like Captain Greg Fox said that the offenders know what's going on. 

"So they know that they can commit certain crimes and suffer very little penalty, so it's not a secret." said Fox, Commander at the Lane County Jail.

A rundown sheet on the inmates shows in one example, Inmate #5 (no name listed) was convicted for possession of heroin, hit and run and criminal mischief. 

The inmate got a 60 day sentence but served only 2 days in the county jail.

Captain Fox says it just makes it harder to enforce the law.

"The District Attorney is not even prosecuting certain crimes now because they know
we don't have the capacity to hang on to them." Fox said.

Even some of the inmates let out on Thursday said they are nervous about the big release.

"I saw a couple of people that I'm not friends with that I would prefer to be in prison." said former inmate Adam Hyland.

"I think if there's probable cause to detain someone there's probable cause to keep them in jail." Ronald Swartz opined.

The Lane County Jail is down to 205 beds, with only 135 of those reserved for local offenders.

Jail Lieutenant Larry Brown told me that 4 of the 32 inmates released were being held on serious Measure 11 crimes.

Those included assault and use of a child in display of sex acts.