Just to catch you up on last year’s news as reported by TheAdvocate all the way back in, well, May of 2014 and even before that, the local daily ran info from a county press release last week to tell us that things got so overcrowded at the jail that it had to stop accepting new inmates for a few hours.
The same press release went on to say, “The Benton County Jail is the smallest jail per population in Oregon and regularly closes, unable to accept new inmates arrested by local law enforcement. In 2014, the jail closed for a total of 305 hours.” The communiqué goes on to talk about some of the costs associated with renting beds at neighboring county jails and such.
Of course regular Advocate readers know all this and that the story doesn’t stop there. For instance, the facility is in such poor shape that portions sometimes crumble, allowing daylight to come in through supposedly solid walls. As former sheriff Diana Simpson put it in our 2013 coverage, she believes we need to replace the jail “just for the humanity of it.
We chose not to run last week’s press release, believing that our local electorate would wait for more comprehensive coverage and some public discussion, but feedback has been knee-jerk. Our hope is that people will take a deep breath, wait for the facts to come out and for arguments to be articulated, and then come to a decision.
Recalling the local GMO measure rhetoric of earlier this year it is imaginable that we would all prefer a more deliberative discourse than that going forward.