Coos County jail cites and releases criminals

Coos County jail cites and releases criminals
COQUILLE, Ore. -- Since budget cuts in 2007, the Coos County jail has closed two of its four cell blocks, including its Juvenile Detention Center.

Right now, only about 100 jail cells out of 200 are open, allowing guards to keep around 90 criminals behind bars at a time.

That means many times officers arrest someone, they have to release them back out onto the streets.

Administrative Corporal, Eric Zanni, said, "We want to keep obviously people that are in there for murder, serious assaults, sex offenders."

Those who commit minor crimes, like burglary or theft, are cited and let go. This is part of the reason for the growing amount of crimes in Charleston over the last few months.

Sgt. Pat Downing, with the Coos County Sheriff's Office, says officers get discouraged when they have to release someone they just arrested.

"Many times the city of Coos Bay, they're following the people they've just brought in for booking back to Coos Bay because they've had to be released," Downing said.

In 2007, 32 officers lost their jobs. With less staff, the jail can't hold as many prisoners in case something were to happen.

"We hear the complaints from the public and it's frustrating, and obviously everything is governed by having the financial resources to take care of the problem," Corporal Zanni said.

The good news is, they've cleaned out and repainted all of the unused cells, so that the jail is ready when it can be filled again.