Guest Opinion Re: ‘County States Case for New Jail’

The county’s case for a new jail seems based on fanciful numbers. The sheriff says our criminal justice system lacks teeth because we have to give early release to some 300 inmates per year, and that some inmates effectively escape long sentences.

The Sheriff’s Department website publishes the list of inmates released early. For 2014 the actual number was 68; so far this year it is 37. The most common number of days released early is one. The average number of days released early is only two. These actual early release numbers are trivial. They don’t justify building a new jail.

In the article, Sheriff Jackson claims the county spends $2 to $3 million per year paying other counties to incarcerate our inmates. But the Sheriff’s Department’s own newsletter in July of 2015 reports that the county only pays $1.1 to $1.3 million per year, and those figures include transportation costs for up to 40 inmates. It would be far cheaper for the county to send all of its 80 prisoners out of county rather than build and operate a new jail.

In the article Jackson also claims that the per day inmate cost in a new jail would be $15 to $16. But the statewide average is in the mid $80s now. His $15 to $16 figure has no credibility. You can barely feed the inmates each day on that sum, let alone house them.

The county’s argument for a new jail is based on faulty and fanciful numbers.

 From David Grappo, Corvallis