Oregon’s prison population is expected to drop slightly over the next five years, with long-term projections showing fewer inmates behind bars than previously anticipated, says a state Office of Economic Analysis report quoted by The Oregonian. That’s good news for taxpayers, who are far less likely to have to foot the bill for a new minimum-security prison in Junction City.
Corrections experts attribute the anticipated five-year decline in prisoners – from 14,621 to 14,452 – in part to a law passed last summer that modified presumptive sentences for certain classes of nonviolent criminals, including marijuana dealers and low-level identity thieves. The law already has shown signs that it will keep offenders in local custody –primarily in county jails, or on probation or post-prison supervision – rather than housing them in prisons. State prisons spend about $85 a day, on average, to keep inmates behind bars, many times the cost of managing inmates at the county level. Craig Prins, executive director of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, could not recall a 10-year prison forecast with such small growth.