Jackson County to continue rehab for federal offenders

The Federal Bureau of Prisons will pay Jackson County $1.56 million to continue providing transitional and rehabilitation services for just-released federal offenders over the next three years.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to renew the intergovernmental agreement during ita weekly public agenda meeting Wednesday. It will start Sept. 1 and will expire Aug. 31, 2015.

Jackson County has provided services to the Bureau of Prisons since 2006, said County Administrator Danny Jordan. Under the agreement, the county has hosted a residential release center that provides offenders with community-based drug and alcohol treatment and additional life skills programs through Jackson County Community Justice.

"I think it's very effective from the sense that you're talking about people that would be getting released one way or the other," said Eric Guyer, Community Justice program manager.

Federal agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service contract with counties on several similar law enforcement programs.

Before the program started, the county had been renting jail beds in facilities outside the county at a cost of $2 million for a similar transition program. Those funds came from county general fund dollars, Jordan said.

"We also had to pay all the transportation costs to and from," Jordan said. "The county couldn't afford to pay for those things."

Offenders participating in the program come from several prisons. All are from Jackson County and have been convicted of a variety of federal offenses, including tax crimes and drug and weapons charges. Bureau of Prisons officials select who they think will benefit from the program.

Guyer said the program hosts anywhere from six to eight offenders at a time. They live in a dormitory and are monitored by Community Justice employees called transition center technicians.

"It's a little more structured than what I think people envision a halfway house to be," Guyer said.

Technicians facilitate meetings with job agencies to help connect offenders to employment opportunities and provide them with official identification documents such as their birth certificate.

"For those folks who have been somewhat transient or living institutional for a long time, documents like identification have been lost," Guyer said.

The program could be renewed again after the 2015 sunset date.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or email rpfeil@mailtribune.com.

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