Counties agree on jail bed rental

Jefferson to rent out 10 beds
With an inmate jail population hovering between 240 to 250, Deschutes County has signed a contract to rent 10 beds at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility.
   On July 2, the Deschutes County Commission approved an agreement to pay a daily rental of $62.98 per bed for 10 beds for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.
   "We've had a contract with them for a daily rate, but they've only used it once or twice over the years," said Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins, who was excited about the prospect of having additional beds rented out at the 160-bed jail.
   "This really helps us in being able to keep costs down for our citizens," he said.
   For a full year, the rental will amount to a total payment of $229,877, but Deschutes County can reevaluate the contract throughout the year and add or subtract beds if needed, according to Capt. Mike Espinoza, who oversees the Deschutes County Adult Jail.
   Deschutes County, which has a 228-bed main facility and a work center with a maximum of 90 beds, first began renting beds from Jefferson County on April 8 at a cost of $76.36 per bed, per day, he said.
   With a growing population and other factors -- such as mandatory sentences and arrests -- in effect, Espinoza said that they decided that it would be more fiscally responsible to negotiate a lower rate for a set amount of beds.
   "In order to create room to make the appropriate housing decisions and classifications, we had to rent jail beds," he said. "That 10-bed rental is based on a percentage of our overall population and allows us a few more beds to make appropriate housing decisions."
   "What typically occurs is we're at a limit," he said, noting that there are many considerations when deciding where to house the inmates. "We've had an influx of females; we may have to utilize areas that weren't originally intended for females."
   Additionally, there may be the need for special attention or care, such as when dealing with inmates with mental health problems. "With our population, the dynamics have really become a challenge," he said.
   In May 2010, Deschutes County voters turned down a $44 million jail expansion bond, so Espinoza doesn't expect the county to go back out for a bond anytime soon. "The community spoke, and their decision was not to do that," he said.
   The Deschutes County inmates will primarily be those who have already been sentenced, so they won't need to be transported back and forth.
   "We'll be sending people that present the least amount of concern and/or liability for (Jefferson County) operations," said Espinoza, adding that Adkins has been "great to work with."
   Besides the 10 beds rented by Deschutes County, Crook County has a contract to rent 16 beds per day at the same rate for a combined total of $597,680.20.
   "We've been ranging from 72 to 85 with those people in our jail," said Adkins, who before the agreement had been concerned about possibly needing to lay off staff due to a compressed operational levy.
   State law restricts the amount property taxpayers pay to no more than $5 per $1,000 for schools, and $10 per $1,000 for government, special districts and levies -- such as the 99 cent per $1,000 jail operations levy. As a result, the jail levy has been "compressed" to keep total taxes under $15 per $1,000, and the jail doesn't receive as much as expected.
   "It's going to save our bacon because of that compression," said Adkins.