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May 25, 2020
You are here : Jail  >  New Jail Project
New Jail Project

Jackson County Sheriff's Office staff are exploring ways to help alleviate problems in the local criminal justice system caused by an undersized and outdated jail.  The goal of this website is to help educate citizens about the problem so we can work toward an effective solution.

The current jail was built in 1981, when Jackson County's population was 134,546, and was designed to hold 176 inmates.  In 1985, inmates sued Jackson County for overcrowded conditions; the settlement led to clear restrictions on the ability to house additional inmates within the current facility. 

In 2017, the jail handled approximately 14,000 lodgings.  Due to capacity restrictions, about half were released before they could appear in court or pay bail. Upon release, many offenders go on to commit additional crimes, to be lodged in jail, and to be released again.  This "revolving door" affects liveability in the community, and creates a strain on local resources.  

In 2018, Jackson County's population reached 215,000 and continues to grow.  Modifications to the jail now allow a total capacity of 300 inmates (315 overnight) - a capacity that is still inadequate to address the needs of the community.  

In 2019, Jackson County completed the purchase of a parcel of land in North Medford upon which to build a proposed new jail.  Efforts are currently under way to introduce a plan to voters to approve a service district to support future jail operations. 

Sheriff Sickler is available to present information about the jail project to local groups and organizations.  Please call (541) 770-8923 to make a request. 

This page is a work in progress and additional information will be added over time.  We hope you will find it useful. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How many jail beds do we really need?

 In 2006, the National Institute of Corrections suggested the number of beds needed to effectively serve Jackson County was approximately 600.  That was 13 years ago – the county’s population has continued to increase since then.  We want to be able to house inmates long enough to impact crime and to support the criminal justice system as a whole.  In 2017, we were forced to release nearly 4000 inmates due to capacity restrictions (and 5000 in 2016), not to mention several thousand “risk” releases each year (a risk release is basically a pre-emptive forced release). We believe being able to effectively house at least 750 inmates will serve the community for years to come.  Our goal is not to build a new jail that we will again fill to capacity, but to have enough empty bed space to appropriately classify inmates and house them appropriately.  Empty jail beds would also provide a deterrent to criminal activity, something we currently do not have.