Oregon's Lane County Faces Continued Dismantling Of Public Safety

Jan 10, 2013

The Lane County Sheriff expects to have to cut more jail beds next year and the year after that. In two years, the county may have only 26 beds for local offenders and no sheriff's patrols. With the current 135 local beds, offenders are being released from the jail after serving only hours.

Inmates were released early from the Lane County Jail in July when 100 beds were cut.
Credit Rachael McDonald / KLCC

This fiscal year, Sheriff Tom Turner had to reduce his budget by $11 million. That meant closing jail beds and reducing patrols. He has projected his budget out two years. He says in 2013-14, he expects to have to make at least a $2 million cut and, if no new revenue is found, an up to $7.9 million cut in 2014-15.

"We'll be down to 26 local jail beds," Turner says. "It will be total elimination of our patrol services. It will be total elimination of our civil service and our enforcement. It will be elimination of all but one detective."

The projected cuts come because many federal programs are being eliminated in the next year or so. Lane County has the sixth lowest property tax in the state. And the recession and loss of federal timber money has already taken a huge toll on the county's public safety coffers.

The Lane County Board of Commissioners is exploring a funding measure for jail beds and patrols. Similar measures have failed 14 times in the past.

Copyright 2013 KLCC