BEND, Ore. - A tough decision for Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton; release inmates early or pay to rent beds at another jail. For the first time, he's renting beds from Jefferson County.
"Not a good day for Deschutes County and the sheriff's office, when for the first time in history, we've had to rent jail beds from another agency," Blanton said Monday.
The cost, $76.36 per inmate -- and that's just the bed and food. Costs including medicine and other items can add up well above that number.
But it's not just the cost that is having an impact. Blanton says inmates know that overcrowding will force people out, and that makes the situation inside the jail difficult.
"Frankly, it's a joke," the sheriff said. "The female population for example -- they knew that they were, some of them were about to get kicked out because we were full and no place to go."
The jail has 228 beds, and not every one is full. But there are a complex set of rules for housing inmates, so being full and being at capacity have different meanings.
"You can't house co-defendants together. You can't house sexual predators with general inmate population," said Blanton.
Without the right mix of inmates, the jail runs out of beds long before all 228 are full.
Last May, a bond to fund a jail expansion failed. Though he says "never say never," Blanton thinks it's unlikely another bond is in the near future.
"I doubt if you'll see this sheriff put another levy on the (ballot) for a vote," said Blanton.
With an average of 16 inmate bookings a day, for now that means paying to send inmates away.
"Right now Jefferson County has beds to rent There will be a time and a place where they don't have beds to rent either," said Blanton.
Here's the sheriff's announcement, issued Monday:
For the first time ever, Deschutes County has had to rent jail beds in neighboring Jefferson County, after running out of room for five female inmates, Sheriff Larry Blanton said Monday.
Around 2 p.m. Sunday, the Deschutes County Sheriff?s Office Adult Jail population exceeded capacity, Blanton said The county contacted the Jefferson County Sheriff?s Office to rent jail beds for the five female inmates.
?For the first time in our history, we find ourselves in a situation where we had to rent jail beds," Blanton said. "Available beds in Deschutes County have been an ongoing problem. We have changed our policy several times to adjust for male and female beds. We are now in a situation where there were no available female beds."
Under terms of the county's contract with Jefferson County, Deschutes County will pay $76.36 per day per inmate. Deschutes County voters rejected a jail expansion bond measure in recent years.
"The five females that were transferred to Jefferson County will cost $381.80 per day, or $11,454 per month,? Blanton said in a brief news release.
The charges pending against the five females include a history with methamphetamine delivery and possession, as well as, one female held on felony DUII and reckless driving charges.
"We will continue to evaluate the female population, as well as male population," Blanton said.