EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – Another round of inmate releases from the Lane County Jail took place Thursday morning with one inmate rearrested as the Lane County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) shuttered another wing of the facility in response to budget cuts.
31 inmates walked free from the jail around 11 AM on November 29 as the jail closed its intake wing. That wing has a total of 35 beds that are now unavailable due to a lack of funding.
Less than an hour after being released, 33-year-old Christopher Weaver was re-arrested, accused of attempting to rob a bank at 14th Avenue and High Street in Eugene, about fifteen blocks from the jail. Weaver is now being detained on a federal hold, making him ineligible for release.
Federal money is a major piece of the latest county jail bed reduction. LCSO has been planning on closing the jail's intake wing for the last month due to a decrease in revenue from the U.S. Marshals Service.
For several years, the U.S. Marshals Service has rented dozens of jail beds from Lane County. That money is directly invested in jail operations. When LCSO created its current budget, it projected the U.S. Marshals Service would rent about seventy beds from the jail per month, per year. Typically the service has rented about 85 beds each month. Currently, the service has only been renting around fifty beds.
The intake wing closure leaves the jail with a total of 205 open beds, but only 135 of those are available for local offenders. The others are reserved for inmates booked by Eugene Police or the U.S. Marshals Service.
“It's ridiculous to provide that little housing for felony prisoners here in Lane County,” said Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner in an interview with NewsSource 16 on Wednesday.
Of the 31 inmates released on Thursday, three are Measure 11 offenders. It is illegal in Oregon to release Measure 11 offenders before their trials; however LCSO says it has no choice. The Sheriff's Office says it is releasing the most low risk offenders according to its accredited points system. The system measures inmates risk to the community based on varying factors including current charges and prior criminal history.
James Watkins was one of the inmates released on Thursday; he spoke with NewsSource 16 while exiting the facility. Watkins is charged with a parole violation for eluding police and theft.
“I'm just trying to get my life back together, you know. Just do the right thing you know. Stay in school,” said Watkins.
When asked for a response to concerned community members, Watkins said, “There [are] a lot of criminals out here, you know, people who shouldn't be let out, a lot of people, like, drinking and driving, like myself. There's some criminals out here but you know, it is what it is, man. If the crime rates go up, you're gonna have to lock them back up, go to prison or something,” said Watkins.
Another inmate released, Corey Anderson spoke with NewsSource 16. Anderson was in jail for leaving a drug treatment program. Previously, he's been arrested for drug and felon in possession of a firearm charges.
"I'm just glad that I was one of them to get out. I mean they said it was like winning the lottery but it seems like everybody won,” said Anderson.
Another inmate who was released on Thursday, Adam Hyland said seeing the new wave of people released from the Lane County Jail is a “relevant concern.”
“I think it's a relevant concern because I see one or two people that I am not friends with that are being let out that I would rather see in prison,” said Hyland, who's charged with interfering with a police report.
This is the fourth round of jail bed closures at the Lane County Jail in 2012. In all, 131 beds have been closed at the jail this year.