Medford councilors hear about new jail, livability team

MEDFORD, Ore. — Medford city councilors heard from Jackson County’s Sheriff on why the agency needs a new jail Thursday evening.

The current jail has been at capacity for more than three decades.

Operating on a one in, one out basis puts people accused of crimes back on the streets until their court date. In many cases, police officers are having to arrest the same people multiple times.

Medford Police Chief Randy Sparacino says it can be a drain on agency resources.

“Those warrants end up tying up officers on needless arrests that they wouldn’t have to have if those folks were initially stayed in jail until their initial appearance date or they were getting into any type of programs that the jail would be able to offer them.”

Jail space and services were also on councilors minds when discussing a proposed livability team for the city of Medford.

The team of 3 police officers and a code enforcement officer would focus on chronic criminal behavior in downtown, and neighborhood problems like abandoned cars, vacant houses, trash or graffiti.

Many councilors liked the idea but felt a lack of available social services and a crowded jail would work against what they wanted to accomplish.

The plan wasn’t scrapped. Councilors want to hear a proposal that does not include raising utility fees and find a way to use tax revenue from marijuana sales to help bolster social services.

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