People of Northwest Public Radio
Oregon Prison Cuts
Thu February 9, 2012
Lane County Cuts Jail Beds, Deputies
EUGENE, Ore. -- The Lane County Sheriff plans to lay off up to 90 people and close more than one hundred jail beds. That's because the county is losing $14 million in federal timber payments.
Sheriff Tom Turner says Lane County will go from having 16 deputies to only four. He already reduced patrols countywide last year.
Turner: "This will get us down to the point where we cannot provide any kind of regular patrol at all. It's going to be only the most serious of calls that we're going to go to."
Taken together, the end of timber payments and loss of other revenue adds up to a projected 10 million dollar budget shortfall for the sheriff's office. This means the jail will have to reduce its number of beds by half-- to just 130 for a county of 350,000 people.
Turner: "That means that offenders will come in and they'll go out. And so you're trying to keep them based on the highest of risk factors. "
Sheriff Turner expects to make the cuts within 30 days. He'd like to see a tax levy to fund pubic safety, but attempts to pass similar ballot measures have failed 14 times in the past 20 years in Lane County.
Copyright 2012 KLCC.