PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County has rented beds at the Jefferson County Jail for a number of years, but a citizen committee is discussing whether that should continue for the long term. Mike O’Herron co-chairs that committee. He tells KBND News the current Crook County Jail, in downtown Prineville, is over 50 years old. "It can only house adult males, there’s no space for females or juveniles. The county also contracts for 25 beds from Jefferson County, in addition to the 16 beds we have here. But, this facility is at the end of its life and something needs to be done – either rent more beds from Jefferson County, or construct our own facility here in Crook County."
Continuing the rental agreement appears unlikely. O’Heron says, under the current system, the county spends extra time and money on transportation. "You’ve got your inmates in one location and your law enforcement and court system in another location, so it’s a logistical problem for the County. Secondly, that money that we’re paying Jeff County could be used to operate and construct a jail here in Crook County, in conjunction with other facility needs like a Sheriff’s office or Police Department, or other functions related to law enforcement and Corrections."
He says a new facility could come from renovating an existing building, like the now-vacant Pioneer Memorial Hospital, or building on new property. But, the committee is still considering all options. "We’re looking at sites, costs, what functions would be housed at a facility, what the cost would be for taxpayers to rent more jail beds or to build; do you renovate something? We’re looking at all those alternatives."
The committee met again this week, and O’Herron is confident they will have reasonable recommendations to present to the city and county by the end of April.