PRINEVILLE, Ore. - It's a new chapter for the Crook County Sheriff's Office as officials broke ground Thursday on a long-awaited $17 million jail to replace its current crowded facility, so small that many wrongdoers go free under a matrix system.
"This is the beginning of new era for the Crook County corrections," Sheriff John Gautney told a large crowd of community leaders and other residents.
Last November, voters passed a $10 million bond measure to help pay for the new 76-bed jail that will be built on Northeast Second STreet.
It will replace a more than 40-year-old 16-bed facility that houses only male inmates and is connected to the Prineville Police Department.
Sheriff John Gautney told NewsChannel 21 he's glad to say that the revolving door for criminals is finally closing.
"We bring people in, we don't have bed space for them, and so what do we end up doing, we end up releasing that person on the matrix system," he said. "Many times we've seen those people come right back, because they committed another crime."
Voters had rejected two jail bond measures in the past, Gautney said with the help of a good message and the Citizens Academy, voters knew where their tax dollars will be going to.
Mark Dostal was part of that academy and voted in favor of the new jail.
"It was safety, primarily, for the community," he said. "If people do something wrong, they need to be held accountable. If they're not held accountable, than there is no reason they're not going out and do it again. So to keep our children and community safe."
The new county jail won't only house male and female inmates but will also offer programs for drug rehabilitation and mental health programs.
The jail is expected to be complete by December of 2018.