Jackson County trying to lease its new jail space
MEDFORD — Jackson County in Southern Oregon would like to lease more jail beds to federal and other agencies.
While the county has not been struggling as much as some others to replace lost federal timber revenues, it is still looking for new sources of revenue to support the jail.
Jackson County Administrator Danny Jordan told The Medford Mail Tribune that leasing 55 jail beds could bring in $2.2 million a year, and net the county $1.5 million.
The jail recently built 60 more beds in an area that had provided office space for the sheriff's department.
The jail makes up to 22 beds available to the U.S. Marshals Service for $105 per bed per day when the service needs them. It's negotiating a contract for the federal government to commit to lease the space full time.
A call to the Marshals Service office in Portland was not immediately returned.
The county also is negotiating with other unnamed, non-federal agencies to fill another 33 beds.
Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson says his county will compete to house federal inmates.
Voters in his county voters refused to approve a tax increase for public safety, so as of July 1, Gilbertson plans to cut patrol deputies from three to one. The jail has only enough money to keep 100 of its 262 beds open. Thirty-two of those are federal beds. He would like to get some more.
“Jackson County charges a little bit more than we do,” Gilbertson said. “We are hoping we can capture some that contract as well for lesser cost.”
Jackson County has proposed deep budget cuts for the next fiscal year, including a $250,000 cut to the Sheriff's Department.
The department already has 22 positions unfilled. Libraries are facing the prospect of total closure within two years if no new source of money is found.
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters said federal agencies are eager to lease the beds because the federal court is located blocks from the jail.
The county is forced to release several inmates per week because of space restrictions. Winters said he expects the federal agencies to keep most of their allotted beds occupied, so it won't eliminate the majority of the county's early releases.
Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/