MEDFORD, Ore. – Serious offenders are contributing to overcrowding at the Jackson County Jail, the sheriff’s office said.
In the past, Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler has told NBC5 News that the county is in dire need of a bigger jail, which is currently at a maximum capacity of about 250 inmates.
The sheriff’s office said Jackson County stands out compared to other counties due to the high number of inmates accused of committing serious crimes against other people. For example, 22 people are being held on murder charges, 35 for alleged sex offenses, 6 for attempted murder, and 3 for manslaughter.
Due to safety concerns, nearly half the jail’s population must stay behind bars while waiting for trial, which can sometimes take years. The sheriff’s office said that’s one of the reasons they have trouble housing people accused of low-level charges.
Last year, the formation of a “service district” that would increase property tax to fund the construction and operation of a larger jail facility failed to get any traction.
Community organization Rogue Action Center said, “The first step to reduce overcrowding would logically be to reduce the number of people jailed in the first place.” They advocate for more focus on providing assistance to low-risk offenders by increasing services like transitional housing, resources for mental health and drug courts, and crisis response.