The Only Bed in Town


med_Pamelas_Mug_copy55Contrary to unsavory images of city jails in Deschutes County there is really only one jail in the entire county of 3,055 square miles. Redmond does not have a jail. Bend does not have a jail. Sisters does not have its own jail. Even La Pine from its southern point of the county depends on the Deschutes County Jail to place its criminals.

Jail Measure 99-7 is a $44 million bond measure that would finance expanding the current jail by 250 daily use beds and 50 special needs beds (serving inmates with drug and alcohol abuse problems or mental health issues). The cost to taxpayers would be 18 cents per $1,000 of assessed value annually. For a medium priced home in Deschutes County that’s about $3.60 a month.

There are several reasons why this measure merits your “yes” vote consideration:
It will mean a tremendous amount to all of the individuals in the construction industry in Central Oregon and all of the other businesses that benefit from construction spending. People in the building industry in our region have been hard hit by the recession and public construction projects provide numerous well-paying jobs.

Another benefit to the taxpayers will be that costs are very low right now in the construction industry and this is the best time in years to get value out of public dollars.

With only 228 beds currently available to the entire county, there is the constant struggle to not release criminals into the general population ahead of schedule because of overcrowding.

The question has been raised as to the potential use of the now unused Deer Ridge Prison in Madras. Since the state can’t afford to open and operate it, the cost would be prohibitive for Deschutes County. (This does not mitigate the fact that the statte built something they couldn’t fund and a huge public building sits empty)

The question might be: shall we count on someone else for our safety? We think not and encourage you to vote for the county jail expansion. pha


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