Douglas County Jail

A video originally posted on Facebook shows a man, huddled under a plastic bag, outside the Douglas County Jail.

A video circulating on Facebook this week showed what appeared to be a homeless man shivering shirtless in the cold outside the Douglas County Jail after having been released.

The video was posted by Julie Huffman who said it was taken by a friend about a week ago. As of noon Thursday, the original video had more than 86,000 views.

Huffman took down the video early Thursday afternoon. She said she had been contacted by the man’s family members who asked her to take it down.

In the video, a woman attempts to communicate with the man, who lies on the ground and is largely unresponsive. He’s not wearing shoes or a shirt. The woman speaks through an intercom to someone inside the jail and is told that the man has been released.

Sgt. Brad O’Dell, a spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, responded to an inquiry from The News-Review by issuing an email. In it, O’Dell wrote that the man in the video had been ordered to be released from custody by the Winston Municipal Court.

“The individual would not cooperate with deputies in his release process and refused to leave,” O’Dell said. “As we no longer had any lawful authority to keep the individual in custody, deputies had to escort the individual outside of the jail facility.”

He said the sheriff’s office is “currently reviewing the facts surrounding this incident before additional statements are released.”

Directly across the street from the jail is a United Community Action Network office where clothing, supplies and support could have been provided, according to UCAN Homeless Outreach Coordinator Larry Clark.

Clark said he couldn’t comment on what happened with the jail facility, but if anyone had either called or walked across the street to his office at 308 SE Jackson St., he could have provided clothing, socks and hygiene supplies. It’s hard to provide shoes, he said, and he’d love to see more donations of those. Additional supplies and food are available at the Dream Center down the street, he said.

Clark also helps homeless people find the resources they need to get back on their feet.

“If we would have known, we definitely would have done something. That’s what we do,” he said.

The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but is closed from noon to 1 p.m.

Huffman said she was surprised by how many people watched and responded to the video while it was posted. She said she originally posted the video because she has a heart for the homeless.

“We don’t have a mental health facility here anymore and we need something like that. We used to have one. It was upsetting to me,” she said.

She said her intent wasn’t to make law enforcement look bad or to embarrass the family. She just wanted to illustrate how bad things are downtown.

“I see it all the time. I work downtown, and it’s horrible. I was just trying to make people aware of how really bad it is, and I didn’t agree with the way they handled it,” she said.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(5) comments

pwchoices

Throwing taxpayer monies at the homeless problem doesn't fix it.
Giving money to panhandlers only increases the number of panhandlers.
People who are homeless due to situations out of their control I feel sorry for.
People who are homeless because they're a drunk or a drug addict. That's on them.
It's easy enough to elicit sympathy with a photo of a shoe less homeless man. Not so much when the photo is of the homeless defecating/urinating on the sidewalks or streets.

bohica13

ALL of which you just suggested cost money: A LOT of money. Are you willing to pay for that? Every time someone mentions a two cent tax raise people here freak out! You even voted AGAINST keeping you library open. It's one thing to be humane, and quite another to be realistic.

nr77

The Sheriff calling across the river to ADAPT for a crisis intervention counselor to drive over and have the guy hauled to Mercy for an care and an evaluation is free and would be a community service. We already have all the pieces in place and paid for, except we need more mental health providers and communication between agencies. We already have a drug/mental health court, and parole dept, There is a Mission here in town also, and places like UCAN and the Dream Center willing to help. And in our house, we voted TO keep the library open. Yes, we can be humane and realistic. We would much rather see these type of services in place than things like giving $100K worth of free dumping to those that can afford to pay for it by our two senior county commissioners. That money could have been used to train sheriff's staff to recognize and divert mental health cases instead of cycling them in and out of the jail. THAT would be a community service, and maybe people would go downtown to shop again. Leaving that person on the sidewalk did not serve and protect the public interest. A lot of people would like to see the local government communicate and cooperate with care providers, and use more common sense.

bohica13

NOTHING is FREE!

nr77

Ted Talks addresses this issue at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30cyl_E1dbk Douglas County is listed as having passed a resolution through the national Stepping Up Initiative that says it supports a national effort to divert people with mental illness from jails and into treatment. So does our jail and courts and parole office have any communication going locally along those lines? Are any of our sheriff dept trained to assess and call for a crisis intervention counselor, from ADAPT most likely, to assist the mentally ill? That guy should have been sent to the hospital for an evaluation, treated, received housing help or sent to the mission, set up for regular mental health care, and held to accountability by a court through a good parole officer after. https://csgjusticecenter.org/mental-health/county-improvement-project/stepping-up/ Leaving the guy on the sidewalk was not the answer.

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