Douglas County is about to lose $1 million in income from its agreement to house Oregon Department of Corrections inmates in the Douglas County Jail.
Sheriff John Hanlin told the Douglas County Board of Commissioners Wednesday that the original agreement was for a $2 million payment for 60 beds for inmates sent here from the state, but now the state only wants 30 beds.
Even with the cost savings of the reduction of inmates, having the payment slashed in half would force the jail to close a floor and lay off seven or eight staff members, Hanlin said.
The impact would be the loss of about 80 beds.
“We would lose our ability to detain lower-level criminals like people guilty of committing property crimes and maybe vandalism,” Hanlin said.
That includes many of the criminals who’ve been creating problems in the downtown Roseburg area, he said.
The change would also reduce the level of safety for inmates in the jail, he said.
Hanlin said ultimately he, the county budget committee and the commissioners would have to come up with a million dollars somehow in order to maintain the current level of service.
Commissioners Chris Boice and Tom Kress approved an amendment to the intergovernmental agreement between the county and the Department of Corrections, but pledged to find a way to fix the problem. Commissioner Tim Freeman was absent because he was on a conference call.
Boice said it’s a frustrating problem, especially because it’s happening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boice said the state corrections department has been a good community partner with the county. While the county’s been able to meet a need the state has to house its inmates, the state’s payments for those inmates has benefited the county’s budget.
He said the decrease in the county’s jail budget would be significant.
“We are committed to try to figure out a way to not allow that to happen, so we’re going to have to put our heads together and come up with some sort of strategy to try to make sure that that doesn’t happen,” Boice said.