After hours of discussion, the mayor broke a 3-3 tie by voting no.
Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler says the nearly 40-year-old jail has been overcrowded for more than thirty years.
“A very very expensive, resource heavy solution that has proven to us and other communities that this may not be the best way to go,” Darby Ayers-Flood, mayor, said.
Several councilors and residents, who addressed the council, said the county needs to put together a more comprehensive plan. They also said mental health services should be put at the top of the priority list.
“Did you do an analysis that would show how increased funding and implementation of diversionary programs would lead to a decrease in our percentage of our population ending up in jail?” Jason Clark, councilor, said.
Sheriff Sickler says the county already has mental health programs. He says the county has one of the highest release rates in the state, so more beds are necessary.
“We don’t have effective jail space and so I think our programs are compromised,” Sheriff Sickler said.
The county saw this possibility coming. This fall, it’s asking the other ten to approve a proposal without Talent’s support. Wednesday, councilors asked County Administrator Danny Jordan what could that mean for their city, if a new jail they don’t support, is eventually built.
”He could decide that it would be the city of Talent whose people that are going to be released first,” Jordan said.
NBC5 asked the sheriff about that possibility last week.
“We still collect taxes from you know the city of talent, county taxes and those taxes still pay for jail services. This is enhance services so they would still have access to the jail, it would be other services that we would have to look at to how those are provided you know between all the agencies that we do provide services for,” Sheriff Sickler said.
If the other ten Jackson County cities approve the plan, the proposal will head to commissioners. They would decide whether or not it will go to voters next year.
Ashland and Medford have both delayed their votes till next month.
Anna Weeks is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Oregon State University with a degree in Digital Communication Arts and a minor in writing. Previously, she interned with the National Association of Broadcasters at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.
Originally from the Portland area, Anna is excited to explore Southern Oregon. In her free time, she can be found reading, running or watching sports.