As another winter approaches, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and its partners are working to establish more resources for the mentally ill and homeless community in the area, so those needing food and shelter don’t turn to crime to come in from the cold.
The sheriff’s office on Thursday hosted “Cronuts with Corrections,” an event to bring together community agencies and to discuss options on the need for more housing and medical resources during the winter, as well as locations where individuals can be referred to.
The jail is a place where many people come dealing with mental health crises, drug addiction and criminal history.
“The Deschutes County Sheriff’s office jail books in over 7,000 people a year, and out of that, we book in 20 people a day and release about 20 people a day,” said Capt. Mike Shults. “So those individuals coming in, the hope is that when they do leave our system, they have someone come and pick them up and help them get started on the right foot.”
Shults said many times, people continuously return to the jail because they have nowhere else to go.
Charity Creech, a behavioral health specialist with the sheriff’s office, said when people have all of their needs met, they are less likely to end up back in jail, especially in winter.
“As it gets colder, the population in jail increases, because it is a warm place to stay,” Creech said. “You get three meals, a bed, you’re out of the elements. But it’s not the best place for you, and how you got there is not the best option for you. So as it does get colder, which is really hard on the homeless population, we want to provide referrals and options for them that is not outside — or the jail.”