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RAT at Lane County Jail

Lane County would like you to know that budget cuts means they will be releasing people from the Lane County Jail. (See the press release below). Budget cuts also mean that services to help kids, familes, the homeless, homeless pets and rural law enforcement to name a few things will also be cut.

DATE/TIME OF RELEASE:            May 10, 2012 3:00 PM

NATURE OF STORY:                       Capacity Based Releases

During the week of April 30 to May 7, 2012, a look at only sentenced offenders revealed that 13 offenders were released from the Lane County Adult Correctional Facility prior to serving their full sentences.  These 13 offenders were sentenced to a total of 344 days in jail and served an actual total of 56 days due to lack of jail capacity. 

 When the Lane County Jail gets full, which is more often than not, difficult decisions must be made about who to release from custody.  These decisions are made by a validated program called the Risk Assessment Tool that assigns a numerical value to each offender, both sentenced and those awaiting trial.  This score takes a plethora of data into account including the defendant/ offender’s current charges, past convictions, and rate of failure to appear in court.  The result is a Capacity Based Release, a CBR, or in plain terms, an inmate walking out the door before they appear in court or their sentence is up.

At the end of June, due to budgetary cutbacks, the Sheriff’s Office is scheduled to close 131 of their 351 jail beds, and 131 defendants and offenders will walk out the doors of the jail and into our communities.   They will have been “CBRd.”  Take away the 85 jail beds that the county has contracted out to other agencies and that leaves only 120 beds available for local offenders in a county that should have a jail with around 1200 beds.

While the jail has a history of opening and closing beds as money ebbs and flows, this will be the least amount of jail beds we have had to operate with for more than a decade, when we had approximately 29,000 fewer residents in Lane County. Back in 2008 when the jail closed 84 beds due to lack of funding, the average number of CBRs per day rocketed up to 12.5 per day. In 2009, when the beds were able to be reopened, that number fell back to an average of 8.8 CBRs per day.  In July of 2011, those 84 beds were once again closed, leaving the jail capacity where it is right now, at 351 beds.  But the jail can only fill 93% of those beds with inmates due to a Federal Consent Decree to prevent overcrowding, leaving the jail with only 326 beds for inmates. 

Capacity Based Release History:

FY 09/08         4579 CBRs     (Jail closed 84 beds)    FY 09/10         3216 CBRs     (84 beds reopened)

FY 10/11         2595 CBRs                                         FY 11/12**     3293 CBRs     (84 beds closed again)

**Numbers as of March 31, 2012 for FY 11/12.

At this rate, the projected total number of CBRs for FY 11/12 will be over 4,400.  With the closure of 131 beds in June, the number of CBRs is expected to increase drastically. 

On a side note, I can't help but to note that the county provides an acronym for "capacity based release," which is CBR. But it does not provide an acronym for Risk Assessment Tool. 

 In plain terms, "difficult decisions" about who to release early from jail. are being made by a computer program named RAT.