County Commissioners discuss new funding for new county jail

MEDFORD, Ore. — Jackson County Commissioners met with the county administrator and Sheriff Nathan Sickler to discuss funding and a new location for a new county jail.

For over 30 years the Jackson County Jail has suffered from overcrowding. It houses just a little over 300 beds and Sheriff Sickler says they’re hoping a new jail would fix that problem among others.

“We need to double that at least and were hoping to, probably around 750 beds is going to be our target just based on costs analysis,” Sheriff Sickler said.

The site they’re considering is 47 acres and is in close proximity to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. The land itself costs more than 6.5 million dollars. The whole project could cost more than 100 million dollars.

Some of that funding for the jail would have to come from taxpayers.

“We sent a survey out in march, the county did, and that wasn’t really well received, that was a lot of money, ” Sheriff Sickler said.  “Right now were looking at estimated costs at roughly half of that.”

The survey sent out in March asked voters if they would approve a bond that would cost about 1.09 dollars per 1,000 dollars of a home’s assessed value.

Since that didn’t go over well, the county had to find ways to make the costs cheaper. Now, they’re looking at a bond measure that would get the costs for taxpayers down to .74 cents.

However, at the same time, a .14 cent library bond will be expiring, ultimately making the cost for taxpayers, .60 cents.

Based on the information presented at the meeting Tuesday, county commissioners gave the go ahead for Administrator Danny Jordan and Sheriff Sickler to get solid numbers from contractors.

“In December were going to get an estimate for staffing costs and operational costs of a new facility,” Sheriff Sickler said. “Then we’ll be back to the commissioners to explain the findings.”

Some of the excess costs include providing mental health programs, including court houses in the jail as well as a commercial kitchen to be able to feed the hundreds of people they’ll have in the jail.

If all goes as planned, the county hopes they’ll be able to get something on the ballot next year.

Blakely McHugh is co-anchor of NBC5 News at Sunrise and spokesperson for In This Together, a suicide prevention initiative. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Blakely is a native of San Diego, CA. Blakely is excited to be in southern Oregon, a place that gets all the seasons and has similar temperatures to Arizona in the summer! When she’s not at work, you can find her relaxing at home watching TV and cuddling with her cat, Dallas. She also enjoys trying new places to eat and exploring the outdoors. Blakely loves meeting new people so if you see her out and about, say “hi!”
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