New jail opens, crime drops in Springfield

New jail opens, crime drops in Springfield »Play Video
Many inmates are paying $20 a night for luxuries like this combination sink/toilet at the new Springfield Jail. Police said crime has decreased since the jail opened.

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -  Police say it's a bit early to tell, but they think the new Springfield Jail may be taking a bite out of crime.

Since opening Jan. 29, the 100-bed new jail is holding an average of 40 inmates a day. Those inmates have had to fork out $88,000 in bail money.

"If you get arrested, you're not going to get a ticket. You're going to go to the jail until you post bail or see a magistrate," said Captain Richard Golden, the jail's commander.

Golden said jail is a crime deterrent on its own. Total crime cases in the first three months of the year are down 9 percent for Springfield Police Department.

For veteran cops on the force like John Patterson, that is an encouraging trend. 

"And for them to face the consequences of their actions, it's been, I think, a big morale boost for us on the street," he said.

Police are touting the crime deterring benefits of the new jail, but for downtown merchants, at least one said it's the same old story on Main Street.

"Well, I have to go clean up that puke for God sakes," said an exasperated Ruth Ballenger, the owner of Ruthie B's antique store and restaurant. 
Ballenger said the street people are still hanging out, and they don't help the business.

"They scare my customers; not a good thing, but we live and hope," she said.

For Ballenger, the jury is still out on the new jail.

"Maybe it hasn't had enough time yet," she said.

Golden agreed. "It's too early for us to really know what the impact is," he said.