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La Grande Observer Paper 08/20/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow Our View arrow Jail crowding needs creative solution

Jail crowding needs creative solution

The Union County jail faces severe overcrowding issues, and with that comes public safety issues for the community.

If people do the crime, they should do the time. That’s how it would work in an ideal world. This is not an ideal world.

Officials use a matrix system to determine which inmates get released early. They take this job very seriously. The reason is to make sure the least dangerous offenders are released. The Union County Sheriff’s office says 73 inmates were let out on matrix release agreement in 2009, 256 in 2011, 244 in 2013 and if numbers continues at present rate, 199 by end of 2013.

That’s alarming. 

Sheriff Boyd Rasmussen has a possible answer. He suggests creating a committee of community members along with key players like the district attorney’s office, parole and probation and judges to look for creative solutions. And they will have to be extremely creative because any really good solution would involve a major investment.

There are three possibilities. First, the jail could close and the county could transport all inmates to other jails. Second, the existing jail could be expanded, but only slightly. Or third, the county could move to build a new jail, which would be a huge expense. 

It’s time to accelerate the process of finding solutions before an inmate is released and goes out in the community and hurts someone.

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