New Springfield jail to help county jail overcrowding

New Springfield jail to help county jail overcrowding
SPRINGFIELD - It's a revolving door at the Lane County Jail.

"Barring a homicide case or something really really significant, they get released every single day," said Springfield Police Chief Jerry Smith.

People who commit a crime don't always do the time, especially in Springfield.

"The latest study that we did showed that 88% of the people we arrest are out in less than 24 hours," said Smith.

Jerry Smith said 99 per cent are released after less than two days. It's a system without incentives for repeat offenders to stay out of trouble.

"You can give me 50 more officers," said Smith. "I can't change the outcome with 50 more officers. The only thing that will change the outcome is when people are held accountable when they commit crimes."

The current Springfield jail is pretty much useless. It can only hold ten inmates and is treated more like a holding facility.

"We don't house prisoners for any substantial period of time," said Smith. "We will hold them for short periods while they're in transit back from court."

A new jail is about to be under construction. It should take away some of the jail overcrowding stress and hopefully reduce crime.

"I truly believe that the crime rate in Springfield will decrease with the operation of the municipal jail," said Smith.

Springfield Police aren't the only ones ready for the jail to open for business.

"If they fill that facility and it's 100 beds, that will be 100 fewer offenders that will be out on the streets," said Lane County Sheriff Russ Burger.

Both agree, it's not going to solve the problem overnight.

"It's a great thing for this community, but it's not near the amount of capacity that's needed," said Burger.

"This is not a panacea for the circuit court felony charges," said Smith. "But, felons also commit misdemeanors and misdemeanors are going to be held in our jail."

But once it opens, it should help put a lock on a safer and more secure future for Springfield.

The new Springfield jail should open by spring of 2010.