New Jackson Co. Jail proposal heads to city councils

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Nearly six months after his efforts were rejected, Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler is pitching his new jail proposal.

Over the next six weeks, the sheriff will visit all 11 city councils in Jackson County. They’ll look at resolutions that would allow residents to be part of a district in the county’s 11 cities. The district would allow for further property taxes to fund a new jail.

“We’re hoping all 11 cities will agree to move this issue to the voters,” said Sickler, “and let the voters decide if we’re gonna move forward with a new jail project.”

Early this year a previous proposal was unable to garner enough support in Ashland and Talent. Councilors in both cities wanted to see more regarding medical and mental health services, and drug prevention.

“It’s more than building a facility to incarcerate people,” said Ashland City Councilor Rich Rosenthal. “I’m curious to see funding for prevention programs, things that help keep people out of jail in the first place or prevent them from going back again.”

This time, the sheriff’s hoping some extra work will pay off. “Take some time to engage the cities in conversation and individuals within the community in conversation,” he said, “and do some education about the current criminal justice system in Jackson County.”

Sickler said regardless of the outcome, he hopes the open conversations will keep the momentum going. “Whether not we actually get a jail or not, that maybe we can find some solutions to some of our issues in Jackson County.” If passed by the councils, it will head to county commissioners, who will decide whether or not it will go to voters in May.

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