EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- As a second inmate released from the Lane County Jail on Thursday is re-arrested, Eugene Police Chief Pete Kerns is sounds off on the effect of the Lane County’s jail’s funding.
44-year-old Steven Berry was booked in the Lane County Jail around 9 AM Friday, November 30, a little less than twenty-fur hours after he was released from jail on Thursday morning.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office closed its intake wing of the jail on Thursday, freeing 31 inmates who were either serving sentences or waiting for trial.
Before Thursday’s release, Berry was being held on trespass and meth possession charges. Berry is now also facing Unlawful Entry - Motor Vehicle and Theft III charges. Eugene Police arrested Berry around West 8th Avenue for allegedly breaking into a car and stealing some items.
Berry is the second inmate to re-offend since Thursday’s release. The first inmate was 33-year-old Christopher Weaver. Eugene Police say Weaver attempted to rob a bank on 14th Avenue and High Street just 55 minutes after his release.
Both Berry and Weaver’s new crimes are extra cases Eugene Police are now dealing with because the two were let out of jail. Chief Pete Kerns says it is a huge concern.
“We're in a pretty difficult spot here where we're determined to reduce crime but we don't have a really important part in the system to help us, to support that,” says Chief Pete Kerns of the Eugene Police Department.
With accused criminals moving in and out of jail and committing more crimes, some have brought up the idea of Eugene building its own municipal jail.
Just a couple years ago, the City of Springfield took that route, as it was dealing with the same problem of criminals being let out of the Lane County jail and committing new crimes. In response, the city built its own jail through taxpayer bond measures.
Eugene, on the other hand, still primarily relies on Lane County to house its offenders. In the last 36 hours though, more than ten people arrested by EPD officers have been released from the Lane County Jail.
NewsSource 16 asked Chief Kerns about the idea of building a municipal jail in Eugene on Friday, November 30.
Chief Kerns says a jail would be a “huge undertaking,” both financially and resource-wise. Chief Kerns says the department is more focused now on things it can afford without going to the taxpayers, including crime prevention and data lead policing.
"Based on intelligence we get from criminal offenders and from detectives and patrol officers and parole and probation officers, we have a pretty good idea of who is out there actively committing crimes. So we spend as much time in the neighborhoods where crime in high, where the offenders are committing those crimes and the combination of that with crime prevention has been pretty effective,” says Chief Kerns.
Eugene Police says the lack of jail beds is still a big concern. The impact has been enough that the department pitches in money to rent from local facilities. Eugene pays for fifteen jail beds at the Lane County jail. Meanwhile, it pays for ten beds in the Springfield jail.