In past updates, we have reviewed the way release decisions are made in the jail. Since the last update, we have made some improvements to make the process more efficient.
We now have two Release Assistance Officers. They are Jackson County Community Justice employees who have been given authority by the Circuit Court to make release and bail decisions. They will spend much of their time verifying information provided by inmates, such as address and employment, to help make decisions about an inmate’s release.
We are also working with two new risk assessment tools. The first is the Oregon Public Safety Checklist (PSC). This tool provides an automatic evaluation based on an inmate’s Oregon criminal history. This simple program will save time because a corrections deputy will not need to look through numerous pages by hand to extract specific information and then calculate the risk.
The second tool is the Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument (VPRAI). It is currently used across the country, including in several jails in Oregon. The VPRAI is useful for assessing inmates with criminal history in other states. It is very similar to our current risk assessment.
Eventually, the PSC will be used by officers on the street. It can help them to quickly determine if a suspect should be brought to jail or simply cited to appear in court. This would decrease the number of releases processed by jail staff. Of course, an officer would still have the option of lodging a suspect in jail regardless of risk score, if necessary under the circumstances.
Making the changes outlined above does not mean that we can avoid releasing inmates – we simply don’t have adequate jail space to accommodate all of the people being arrested in Jackson County. In the meantime, the new assessment tools will help us to be more consistent when determining which inmates should be released.
Thank you for your support,
Captain Dan Penland