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Lane County Public Safety System

The workload in the Lane County Public Safety system has been increasing with population growth and the proliferation of methamphetamine abuse, but critical staffing and support have been in decline for more than twenty-five years. (Lane County has 200 fewer employees than it had in 1981.)

Lane County & Oregon Law Enforcement Officers
Lane Co. Of f icers 1.80 Oregon Of f icers

Lane County Criminal  Justice Never Recovered  After the ‘81 Recession     The Number of Officers Part  of the Lack of Capacity in  the Whole System  


1.60 Officers per 1,000 Population






1.00 1980













Source: Oregon LEDS 

Today the only part of the Lane County public safety system that is functioning comparatively well is the portion that deals with our most violent crimes, and that is largely a result of the success of mandatory sentencing under Ballot Measure 111. Unfortunately, after sustaining critical staff-cuts in twelve of the last fifteen years, Lane County is experiencing significant increases in violent crime too, a trend made worse by an influx of California gangs. Crime in Lane County is up sharply. In 2004, our car theft rate was in the 94th percentile when compared with all similar jurisdictions in the United States. This year it was even worse –98th percentile -- and the crime rates for burglary and other property crime is similarly appalling, with Lane Countys overall property crime rate worse than 93% of similar jurisdictions in the United States.
2005 vs 2004 Serious Crime: Lane County's Change in Rank Among 259 Metro Counties 100,000 to 1,000,000 Population
Motor vehicle theft Larceny-theft Burglary P ropertyCrimes Aggravated Assault Robbery Rape Murder/manslaughter Violent Crimes

98% 89% 78% 93% 23% 31% 41% 29% 21% 25% 50% 75% 100%




Typical Metro County

Oregonians implemented Measure 11 about twelve years ago. At approximately the same time thirty-two other states implemented similar "tough on crime" legislation setting longer presumptive prison sentences for many of the most violent crimes. (Most of the states that didn't enact such legislation already had substantially similar sentencing laws.) The subsequent reduction in the violent crime rate was immediate and dramatic, in Oregon and elsewhere, and it has been sustained, in spite of demographic influences which would be expected to push the trend the other way.

Our present crime wave should be no surprise to the public, as our Sheriff, the District Attorney, and the other law enforcement officials have been struggling with it and accurately reporting and forecasting for more than two decades. They have repeatedly tried to secure funding for additional personnel, but the citizens have favored repeated staff reductions instead. Today, with staffing in many areas well below 50% of recommended averages, the public safety system is in collapse. Oregon now has the lowest per-capita police staffing in the United States, behind such economic superpowers as Vermont, Maine, North Dakota and Alabama, and Lane County has staffing as much as 40% below Oregon averages. Predictably, with little or no jail space, few police, few Deputy DAs, few POs and little drug treatment, the local crime rate is soaring.

Oregon Ranked Last for the Number of Sheriff/Police Officers in 2004  Police & Sheriff Officers per 1,000 Capita by State - 2004








2004 Property Crimes Per 100,000 Population

Source: BJS & FBI

The above charts show 2004 staffing and crime rates. Since then crime has been on the rise in Lane County – and more lay-offs are projected, especially if the Secure Rural Schools funding is not renewed.2

The federal Secure Rural Schools funding provides approximately $47,000,000 to Lane County, and $20,000,000 of that is applied to the Lane County general fund. Though there is talk of continuing the payment another year, the last scheduled payment is in the fall of 2006.













0.00 OREGON Lane Co.




Oregon is very poorly policed in general, a condition made much worse by the Oregon legislature’s decision to de-fund and dismantle the Oregon State Police3 over the last ten years. (Oregon State Police patrol staffing has been reduced approximately 50% over the last 25 years.) The police shortage in Lane County is severe even by Oregon’s anemic standards.

200 150 100 50 0

186 120 77 65

180 141 Sw orn FTE 56 Patrol FTE 31.6

Clackam as Marion County Washington County County

Lane County

When the staffing is measured against population the shortages are magnified.

Sworn officers per population
6 5 4 3 2 1 0 5.2 3.4 2.4 2.1 3.8 2.9 1.7 0.7 Clackamas County Marion County Washington Lane County County Sworn FTE per 10,000 residents Patrol FTE per 10,000 residents

At approximately 4600 square miles, Lane County is very large -- roughly the size of Connecticut – making it especially difficult to cover with a small fraction of normal staffing.
FTE per Square mile
25 20 15 10 5 0 10 6.4 6.5 5.5 1.2 0.5 Clackam as County Marion County Washington County Lane County 24.9 19.5 Sw orn FTE/100 sq. Miles Patrol FTE/100 sq. m iles

What’s this all mean? The deputies sent to the 2005 double-murder near Oakridge were at Triangle Lake (west of Veneta) when they were dispatched to the scene. It took them more than 45 minutes to get to there, by which time the killer(s) were nowhere to be found. In the spring of 2006 the LCSO (Sheriff) needed assistance from outside agencies because they were

At 9.47 troopers per 100,000 citizens, Oregon now has approximately half the trooper-staffing of our neighboring states. The comparable statistics for the others are as follows: WA: 13.54; ID: 15.97; CA: 19.19; NV 20.80; Average for USA: 18.35.

at another murder scene and they didn’t have enough officers to conduct interviews and manage the scene (in Dexter); a few weeks after the Dexter murder, there was another killing at the Prairie Schooner north of Beltline and the LCSO needed assistance again, as the killer successfully escaped and had to be pursued. (He’s now in prison.) A few weeks after that murder there was another murder, this time in Goshen. On that day the Sheriff had to call in unarmed Weighmasters to assist with scene control as he didn’t have enough deputies to secure the area. Amazingly, the public expects the Sheriff to do everything with less than a third of the staff he should have. The Sheriff only has six detectives to investigate all the homicide, robbery, rape and sex abuse in unincorporated Lane County. Only one detective is assigned to property crime – which explains why most of the 2,400 annual property crimes reported to the Sheriff go completely uninvestigated. The agency simply doesn’t have the staff needed to do the job. The District Attorney’s office is similarly understaffed. Twenty-five years ago the DA's office was staffed with 29 DDAs (Deputy District Attorneys) in the Criminal Division and 11 fulltime investigators: The workload has more than doubled since then, and the local population has increased by over 60,000, but the DA has lost seven DDAs and all but 1 of the 11 criminal investigator positions have been eliminated. The DA receives between 120 and 150 new criminal cases every week. In the spring of 2004, after three successive years of staff-cuts, the DA instituted a "no-file" policy to eliminate some of the lower-level criminal cases so the deputies could focus on the more serious crimes. The “no-file” list included approximately 100 different misdemeanor crimes, including forgeries, property thefts and property damage below $750 in value. The no-file list resulted in a workload reduction of approximately 1,500 criminal cases (annually), but even with the reduction policy in place, the Lane County DA caseloads remained 65% higher than the Oregon average in DA’s offices, and 16.5% higher than those in the next closest county (Marion County). Independent outside auditors described the Lane County DA as “grossly understaffed and unable to process the press of increasing crime volume.”
900 800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 833 Arrests per DDA Violent Arrests per DDA 407 334

30.6 Marion County

38.6 Washington County

34.6 Lane County

According to corrections standards, a county jail should be sized at 2.5 jail beds per 1,000 residents living in the jurisdiction. Lane County has over 335,000 residents. That equates to a recommended jail size of approximately 835 beds. The Lane County jail has only 499 beds, only 403 of which are in use (because of staff-cuts). Of those, only 389 beds may be occupied, as there is a twenty-year-old federal consent decree in place limiting jail occupancy to 93% of capacity. An average of approximately 100 beds are occupied by federal prisoners, INS “holds”, mental patients and municipal prisoners (none of which figure into the 835 bed calculation.) That leaves only 289 usable beds, many of which are occupied by an average of 200 “SB1145 inmates”4 who must be maintained in the Lane County corrections system. In fact,

Senate Bill 1145 shifted responsibility for housing some felons who used to be held in state prisons. Felons sentenced to serve a year or less in prison now remain in county corrections systems, few of which have the space to house them, as the state underestimated the number of prisoners the counties would have to support by as much as

according to the Pretrial Services office, there are often fewer than 140 jail beds available to manage our local Lane County criminals (pretrial and sentenced), so we’re operating with less than 20% of the recommended capacity available for our local use. That means sentences are aggressively reduced and dangerous, predatory offenders are release prematurely every day. According to the Pretrial Services director, the system is forced to "release the best of the worst" - none of whom should be released early. There simply isn’t any choice. The jail can not handle the pressing volume coming in the front door -- even with all sentences being slashed to a small fraction of the jail-time ordered by the judge.5

70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0


24.1 2.7 Clackam as County

20.4 2.5 Marion County

22.7 4.3 6.19

Arrests per jail bed Violent Arrests per jail bed

Washington Lane County County

* Since Eugene is the site of a U.S. District Court, the Lane County jail contracts with the federal government to house federal prisoners. Springfield and Eugene also contract for beds to house offenders sentenced in the municipal courts. If all of the contracted beds became available to the county the Lane County numbers in the above graph would drop to 51.6 and 5.0 – still well above the other comparable Oregon counties.

No matter how well it's managed, the undersized Lane County jail cannot hold all the criminals. As a result, many other overburdened justice system components are rendered even less effective: Probation officers are less effective because the jail can’t hold non-compliant offenders. Deputy DAs often prepare for the same trial repeatedly, because most of the criminals awaiting trial are out of custody and, not surprisingly, they regularly choose not to show up for trial. The failure-to-appear rate here is averaging over 30%, so much of the time and money spent preparing for trial is wasted. Of course, when the criminals fail to appear an arrest warrant is prepared, but that doesn’t mean much either, as Lane County doesn’t have officers on staff to go arrest them and, even if we did, it wouldn’t help much, because most of the criminals would be re-released again due to lack of jail-space. (The Lane County Circuit Court issues an average of over 900 arrest warrants per month!) We don’t have enough money to pay for extradition either, so low-level felony criminals who manage to make it past adjoining states are usually “home free”. Here, even if we get a case all the way through to conviction, unless a criminal is subject to one of the tough-on-crime ballot measures, conviction in Lane County also means very little, as our sentences are amongst the most lenient in the nation6, and our convicts serve only a small fraction of whatever the sentencing judge orders. In fact, most of our felons will serve very little, if any, local jail time. If they are placed on probation they receive little or no effective supervision (because we have far too few probation officers7). Our drug and alcohol
50%. 5 Between reductions for “good time”, cumulative reductions for working in the jail, and other “alternative” programs, most inmates will serve less than 30% of their sentence in the jail. Few inmates will serve more than 50% of their time in custody, and many will be released from jail before serving even 10% of their sentences. 6 Oregon felony sentences average less than 17% of the United States average sentences for similar felony offenses, so an offense which might call for a 100 day sentence in Kansas, and a 130 day sentence in Texas, would be expected to earn a 17 day sentence in Eugene (of which the inmate might be expected to serve four or five days).

According to Dr. Pamela Lattimore of the University of South Carolina the caseload of a parole and Probation officer should be adjusted to fit the type of offender being supervised: “Generally, high risk and specialized (e.g., sex offender) caseloads are smaller—often prescribed in the 25-

treatment resources are limited and inadequate too. Every part of the system is overloaded and understaffed – usually by a factor of at least 2 or 3 (when compared to national averages) As a result, many of our most vigorous criminals are "recycled" repeatedly. Contrary to popular belief, Oregon has no “three strikes” policy. It's not uncommon for us to see burglars, car-thieves and drug criminals who have more than twenty prior felony convictions. Here's what that means for sentenced offenders in Lane County: One woman was sentenced to 180 days for a felony fraud conviction involving the theft of approximately $6,000. She served only 23 hours before being released! (The sentence is considered "served" in that situation, so she's not coming back to serve the balance.) Last year two other criminals, both dangerous and persistently assaultive, were sentenced to serve one year in the county jail; in each case it was the maximum sentence authorized by law, and the judge imposed it for good reason. Both offenders had very lengthy criminal records involving multiple convictions for violence and other recent threatening and dangerous behavior. One of the two served 60% of his sentence, the other slightly less. That’s Lane’s best case scenario. The justice system has incorporated balance by adding diversion programs and other “alternative-dispositions”, but that’s not working either, largely because the criminals know that the system has no teeth: The DA's office approves approximately 600 felony drug cases for drug court (like diversion) each year. Many defendants used to elect to participate in the program, and their success rates were encouraging, but these days few choose to participate in drug court - the best local treatment option available today - because there is little or no meaningful consequence for choosing not to participate. In fact, many first-time felony drug (methamphetamine) cases are now filed as non-criminal violations, because the DA doesn’t have the staff to do something more meaningful, and even if he did, little would happen via the court system without effective supervision, treatment, and a functional jail. (The DA filed over 180 felony drug cases as non-criminal violations in 2005. The legislature can “talk tough” all day long, but if there are no DAs to prosecute the cases, nothing is going to happen.) That leaves the DA trying to push ten pounds of sand into our three-pound sack: Apparently, that’s what our legislature and our citizens expect. (One particularly astute citizen said, “You’re not doing the job with the money we’re giving you…why should we give you more!!?”) Here's how Lane County compares with other areas around the country: Lane's drug abuse arrest rate per 100,000 adults (105) is almost twice the US average (55) - in spite of the fact that our police officer density is very low: (In 1995 Lane County had 1.4 police officers per 1,000 residents; we're down to 1.2/1,000 now; the Oregon average is 1.6, and the average for the USA is 2.3!* (If other variables are held constant we'd expect the arrest rate to increase with police officer density - as there are more officers encountering and investigating criminal activity. A lower police officer density tends to under-measure relative criminal activity, just as a low PO density would tend to under-detect non-compliance in the supervised offender population.) In 1996, Oregon's Child Abuse Victimization Rate per 100,000 Children was (81), just over half of the US average (150). The rate has increased everywhere, but by 2002 Oregon had surpassed the national average with (127) per 100,000 compared with (124) per 100,000 for the United States. Average jail sentences by offense date, type, and jurisdiction (expressed as multiples of each other) (These are sentences ordered, not the time actually served): 2002 all offenses: Lane: 1

to-35 range. Medium risk caseloads of 50 to 80 cases are often observed. For lower risk cases, caseloads of 100 or more are common. In Lane County the POs have caseloads exceeding 100 offenders per officer – even for the highest-risk offenders. The low-risk offenders receive little to no supervision as they are placed on inactive “case-bank” status.

Oregon: 1 National 7 2002 Violent offenses: Lane: 2 Oregon: 1 National: 8 2002 Property Lane: 2 Oregon: 1 National: 7 2002 Drug Lane: 1 Oregon: 1 National: 6 As you can see, these are 2002 numbers: In 2002 ALL of the beds in the Lane County jail were open and operational. The closure of almost 100 jail beds has since made our situation substantially worse, as those beds represented over 30% of our non-dedicated capacity. As a result, criminals are serving even less of their sentences in jail today - MUCH less on drug and property-crime cases, as the new DOMC system attempts to retain offenders who represent a greater risk of violence to the community - a necessary objective. Since we have even fewer jail beds, the cycle-rate per bed has to accelerate, and average detention times decrease. (It's a mathematical necessity: Even if the jail intake rate is flat, if some inmates must be held longer due to elevated risk, than some inmates must be released even sooner to create space.) Here's one last very important point: Many influences contribute to the raising and lowering of the jail statistics we measure. For example, our 2005 release rate from the Lane County jail is actually lower than it was the year before, in spite of the fact that our crime rate continues to increase. What can we conclude from that? Not much, because so many influences are acting to drive the CBR number down (“capacity-based-release = “matrix). I've listed a few of those influences below: 1) Approximately 2400 felony property crimes will not even be investigated this year, because the Sheriff does not have deputies to do the investigative work, (Burglary, car theft, Forgery, Identity Theft, etc.) (Most of these crimes would have been solved in the past, and most would have resulted in one or more offenders being lodged in our jail and prosecuted many of the investigations would have resulted in lodging several people in our jail.) 2) As a result of staff cuts many of the cases being investigated will not move forward: Between 1200 and 1500 of the cases that are investigated by police are on the District Attorney’s "no-file list", so they will not be reviewed by a Deputy DA, and they will not move forward. 3) Ten years ago police used to arrest and lodge on most felony offenses, but the rules have changed, as there is no point in lodging a criminal who will be immediately released, especially when lodging requires the arresting police officer to complete time-consuming paperwork. For example, the DA's office receives approximately 50 new drug cases every week. Several years ago almost all of the suspects would have been arrested and lodged at the jail. However, under the present release criteria, at least 90% of them would be immediately released, so policies have evolved to allow officers to “cite and release” on most felony drug and property crime charges – even though many will never show up for court. (This includes at least 1,500 property offenses, including many burglaries, felony thefts, car thefts.) 4) We save another 3,000+ arrests/lodgings by processing cases differently in the DA's office. A new cooperative procedure has reduced the percentage of our felony cases that go to grand jury. (It used to be almost all of them). We used to get arrest warrants on almost every grand jury indictment. Now more than half of our felonies can be processed without ever getting arrest warrants - so most of those criminals are no longer being arrested, lodged and released.

5) Judges are imposing even shorter/lighter sentences now - for several reasons: judges wish to conserve our very limited jail space for the most serious/dangerous offenders and they do not wish to suffer the damage in credibility that follows from sentencing an offender to 180 days - and having her serve less than a day before she is released. 6) We don't have enough POs to effectively supervise, so we're not catching as much offender non-compliance and misbehavior. Even when a PO does discover "non-compliance", jail is a "last resort sanction" instead of the inevitable sanction of the 80s and 90s. Today, felons on probation are often sanctioned only by "verbal reprimand" - because there is no jail space and there are few meaningful alternatives to jail. 7) DA's use to review all probation violations, and we used to file most of them. Each time we filed a "PV" - thousands per year - a warrant would issue for the defendant's arrest. Now we typically only file one PV per case - because of staff cuts and the waste of time associated with prosecuting violations for which there is no meaningful sanction. 8) The jail sentences which used to be required under the Oregon Sentencing Guidelines in the early 90s have been cut by 66% under the "thirds rule", so convicts who used to be sentenced to "90 days jail as a condition of probation" now receive a maximum of 30 days - and often half or less of that is actually imposed in Lane County. (In 1993 in Douglas County, for example, a person convicted of Burglary 1 would be sentenced to 90 days in jail as a condition of probation, and he'd typically serve about 70 days of that sentence in jail. Today, in Lane County, the same guy would be sentence to 30 days or less, and he'd be unlikely to serve more than 10 days in jail before being released or "furloughed" to road crew, home-detention, or dayreporting for a few days.) It’s worth noting that Burglary in the First Degree is theoretically punishable by up to 20 years in prison. With all the ratcheting down of Oregon sentences, it's impossible to impose such a sentence. That is the case with the vast majority of Oregon sentencing laws - including many that have been enhanced via one of the "tough on crime" laws. For example, Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle is theoretically punishable by up to five years in prison; that's what the judge is required to tell a defendant at arraignment, but it's legally impossible to impose even half of that sentence. In fact, prior to the passage of the last related ballot measure, the maximum sentence for “UUV” (car theft) was a year in the county jail - no matter how many times the person had previously been convicted. Now, if the defendant is a repeat car thief with ten or twelve prior convictions for car theft, he could be sentenced to up to 26 months in prison – netting about 21 months after "good-time-sentence reductions" (or seven months if the criminal was allowed into the correction “boot camp” program. Even with twodozen prior car theft convictions, it is legally impossible for a sentencing judge to impose even half of the theoretical “five year” Oregon statutory sentence. 9) When criminals FTA (Fail to Appear for court) a warrant issues, but that doesn't mean much anymore, as we do not have police officers available to chase down most of the criminals with warrants. Except in the most serious cases - like homicide - there is no affirmative effort to collect such criminals. Most of them are arrested only if they have incidental contact with police (like getting stopped for a traffic offense or being arrested for a new crime). If the criminal is smart enough to just leave the state for a while, there is a high likelihood his case will never be prosecuted, as we can not afford to extradite from other states on the vast majority of our felony cases. (If the criminal is farther away than Idaho we generally can not bring him back unless his crime is a "B felony or higher" - and that excludes most of our drug volume, domestic assault, car thefts, business burglaries, etc…) Obviously, these are all people who would be re-lodged in our jail if the system was functioning as designed. 10) Last, and least in terms of the impact on capacity-based-release numbers, is the new DOMC program. It's a brilliantly conceived program run by quality people, and it seems like the best possible way to prioritize, but it still doesn't make it possible to put 10 pounds of sand into our three-pound sack; it just ensures that we're releasing the "best of the worst". Can you imagine what would happen to the capacity-based-release rate at the Lane County Jail if we returned to prosecuting the 1,200-1,500 cases on the no-file list AND we suddenly started investigating the 2,000+ property crimes we’re ignoring AND the police returned to lodging the

3,500-4,000 people who are presently just cited AND the DA returned to issuing warrants on grand jury indictments, AND the courts started imposing sentences like those imposed in the rest of the country. Remember, one inmate-day can equate to one release or more, so an inmate who must occupy a bed for three days can result in more than three releases. Imagine the impact of multiplying our average sentence by a factor of 6 or 7 to produce "average United States sentences". Our release numbers would sky-rocket to 25,000 or 30,000 per year in a flash. Our current Corrections Captain, Kevin Williams, believes we need a jail with approximately 1,000 beds to meet the current and projected near-term demand. If we subtract all of the beds being used by the federal government for their criminals and “INS holds”, and the “SB 1145 inmates”, and the beds dedicated to the municipal courts, that would leave substantially fewer than 800 beds available for control of our local inmates, but Captain Williams is a very experienced expert in his field, and he knows the Lane County system. Perhaps we can get by with fewer beds because our sentences are generally much shorter than the average used to project the 2.5 beds per 1,000 need. The county juvenile system is at least as buried as the adult side - maybe even worse - but they are doing great work in spite of it. They are having truly amazing success given their absurdly low staffing levels and the extent to which the state has dumped dangerous juveniles that used to be housed in the state system. Still, every week they’re forced to release very dangerous juveniles – often to the same community where the victim lives. (Just last month we had a juvenile sex offender released after being held less than 45 days on an 18 month commitment! He was placed in the rural high-school attended by his victim!) None of these problems is new. The extent of the understaffing has been measured and discussed to death. It’s been confirmed and reconfirmed in research and reports by the APRI (American Prosecutor Research Institute), the PSCC (Public Safety Coordinating Council) and most recently, Dr. Pamela Lattimore, an expert corrections and justice system analyst from the University of South Carolina. We know what’s going on and why, but nothing is going to change until our citizens care enough to do something about it. In fact, with the loss of “Secure Rural Schools” funding on the near horizon, we’re bracing for another heavy staffing cut, as that represents 30% of the general fund budget.