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Crook County to pay more for Jefferson County Jail beds


Crook County will be paying a little more to keep criminals behind bars at the Jefferson County Jail.

Jefferson County commissioners said the 5 percent increase is due to the rising cost of living and labor relations contract.

Currently, Crook County rents about 25 beds for $65.92 per bed per day for inmates lodged at the Jefferson County Jail. The increase would will take the charge to about $69 for each bed rental.

The annual cost of the 5 percent increase to Crook County equals $30,112.50, for a total cost of $631,632.50 to rent 25 beds.

The county spent $619,821 renting beds in Jefferson County during the 2015-2016 budget year. The increase would be about $11,000, compared with the current budget.

Crook County Sheriff John Gautney said Monday his office doesn’t have any other choice but to pay more for the space at the Madras jail, since the Crook County Jail can only hold 16 inmates.

The sheriff’s office is ending the five-for-five program, which was started two years ago by former Sheriff Jim Hensley. That program helped the jail manage the waiting list. Those criminals sentenced and waiting to serve short sentences were scheduled for five days at a time in Jefferson County, which reduced or cleared their sentence.

The sheriff’s office said that helped reduce the number of convicted offenders on the waiting list. The annual cost of the program was $19,776. Not continuing this program will help Crook County offset the per-bed-day cost increase.

Gautney said his office sometimes will have to release criminals because there is not enough room in either jail to house them.

According to the Public Safety Advisory Committee report, about 440 inmates were released early because of a lack of jail space.

Crook County Commissioner Ken Fahlgren said the county will seek a bond measure in November to help kick-start construction on a new jail to help keep those criminals locked up.

“We don’t have an option at this point. It’s important that we have at least the ability to get these folks back in line,” Fahlgren said. “They need to understand there is a hammer at the end of the day, if they don’t go through a program.”

Gautney said criminals know there is a revolving door and could commit a crime and be released shortly thereafter.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Gautney said, “because my job as sheriff is keep people in custody that committed crimes against society. If we’re not able to do that, then it puts people back in our community to commit more crimes.”

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