Closure of Hagler House will have an impact

PHOENIX — Shuttering a 15-bed transitional home here has opened a hole in services for women released from jail or prison.

Jackson County Community Justice cut $100,000 needed to run Hagler House out of its yearly budget, said director Shane Hagey. The move was just one of Community Justice's efforts to reduce costs following the loss of federal timber funding to the county, Hagey said.

Operated by OnTrack, Hagler House was the only local program that helped women who had been recently incarcerated obtain housing and employment while providing substance abuse treatment and case management, said Rita Sullivan, OnTrack executive director. The program served about 160 women over its three-year history, Sullivan said.

"It was really successful at getting them into treatment," Sullivan said.

Hagler House promised "structure" for 49-year-old Kathy Morris upon her release from North Bend's Shutter Creek Correctional Institution.

"I was really disappointed when I heard it closed," Morris said. "They helped you if you had problems."

Mandatory drug testing kept residents from slipping back into their old ways, Morris said. Following a 2004 conviction for delivering methamphetamine, the Medford resident said she remains drug-free.

Fifty-eight percent of female inmates in the state's jails are drug offenders and the number for the female prison population is 15 percent, according to a March report by the Oregon Department of Corrections.

Nearly 43 percent of female offenders on probation were convicted of drug-related crimes. All Hagler House residents had abused substances, Sullivan said.

Clients typically found themselves at Hagler House by way of probation officers, Hagey said. Since Hagler's June closure, the county's nearby Transition Center is the only staffed facility offering similar services. It has just four beds available compared with 15 at Hagler.

"Transitional housing is a big issue on a statewide level," Hagey said.

It's an issue, officials said, that's only likely to grow along with the female prison population. The number of women incarcerated in Oregon prisons has increased over the past 20 years from less than 200 in 1984 to more than 1,000 this year, the Department of Corrections reports. Theft remains the most common crime of conviction, followed by drugs, robbery, homicide and assault.

Hagey said it's likely too early to know the impact of Hagler House's closure. OnTrack, Sullivan said, might pursue grant funding to reopen the program but likely won't secure funds this fiscal year.

The county, which has owned Hagler House since 1911, has no immediate plans to convert the South Pacific Highway property to another use, said Administrator Danny Jordan. The former residence of county animal control officers, it also was used for mental health programs.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail

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