Board will look at juvenile offender housing pact

Jackson County likely will continue to house juvenile offenders from cash-strapped Josephine County, with Jackson County commissioners set to take a look this week at renewing an agreement adopted last year.

The proposed agreement would bring nearly $148,000 in revenue to the county, as Josephine County would continue renting three beds at Jackson County's 40-bed Juvenile Detention Center. As with the original 2012-13 agreement, the money would fund two additional juvenile justice specialist positions.

The proposed extension goes before Jackson County's Board of Commissioners for approval at Wednesday's public meeting at the Courthouse Auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford.

Josephine County began leasing spaces from Jackson County as it struggled to balance its budget following the loss of federal timber funds. Faced with a $12 million budget shortfall in 2012, the county laid off more than 90 workers and closed its Juvenile Justice Center. Two criminal justice levies have been defeated by Josephine County voters since 2012.

Joe Ferguson, deputy director for Juvenile Justice in Jackson County, said the 2012-13 agreement worked well.

"They've kept those three beds filled," he said. "It's rare we'd have less than three kids from that county."

Josephine County can pay for additional beds beyond the contracted three if there is space, officials said.

"You can see it as kind of a regional model in terms of providing resources to another county," Ferguson said. "It benefits both of us currently."

Shane Hagey, Jackson County Community Justice director, added that several other Oregon counties whose juvenile justice facilities are closed use the same shared, regional methodology.

"I think you're seeing more and more of it as budget times get tighter. You're going to see more and more regionalization of services like that," Hagey said. "Legally, (counties) have to provide the service, but it doesn't mean you have to have it in your own county."

Ferguson said Curry County has an agreement with Del Norte County in California, while Coos County has an agreement with nearby Douglas County. In The Dalles, Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facilities provides adult and juvenile detention for Gilliam, Hood River, Wasco and Sherman counties.

"That's a true regional model. All of those counties put money in to operate that," Ferguson said.

The number of beds rented by surrounding counties could increase down the line, Hagey said, but that's dependent on available dollars year to year.

"It really depends on their resources," he said. "They're going to learn to probably be a little more creative within their own counties."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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