Sheriff: Voter-approved jail levy getting job done

EUGENE, Ore. - The sheriff says the tax levy voters approved in May to help fund the jail is working as advertised.

Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner is telling residents at town hall meetings this month that capacity based releases have been cut in half.

And the number of people accused of the most serious kinds of crimes who get a free pass out of jail has dropped from more than 45 per month to none.

The jail lacked the staff to house all people accused of crimes who had yet to post bail or stand trial, as well as offenders who had been sentenced to the county jail but had yet to finish doing their time.

More importantly, the number of capacity based releases for people accused of Measure 11 crimes - person-on-person crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences - has dropped to zero.

In the first half of this year, 263 serious offenders got a free pass out of jail.

"After the levy passed, we've released zero," Turner said. "That's just an awesome number, and that's an awesome response as to what that did for Lane County."

Voters in May passed the 5-year, $60 million dollar levy to open more jail beds and hire more jail deputies.

Turner said the jail has hired more than 20 jail deputies and more will be hired in the coming months to fill vacancies.