Under Financial Duress, Oregon Jail Releases Whooping Inmates


Dozens of inmates ran whooping from a small-town jail Wednesday after a cash-strapped county in Oregon's timber region was forced to release them amid budget cuts, reports the Associated Press. The sheriff's office released 39 inmates, dropping the population at the jail in Grants Pass to 60 — half of them federal prisoners held on contract. “We had no other alternative based on our funding predicament,” said Josephine County Undersheriff Don Fasching.

About half of those released will finish their sentences on work crews. The rest were waiting for trial. The most common charges were for drug crimes, minor assaults, burglary, identity theft and probation violations. The sheriff's office was forced to cut staffing to levels not seen since 1991 after voters emphatically turned down a $12 million levy to plug a gap left by the expiration of federal timber subsidies. Since then, applications for concealed weapons permits have skyrocketed, many taken by people concerned that the sheriff's cuts will lead to a rise in crime.

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