Medford to rent jail beds for 'frequent flier' inmates

Seeking to keep "frequent flyers" from taking advantage of early release because of jail overcrowding, the City of Medford will rent three jail beds to accommodate people arrested on municipal warrants.

Jackson County will enter into the agreement with the city to rent out three jail beds to the tune of $100 per bed per day, officials said.

The city will reimburse the county $72,600 from the fiscal year, which ends in 2014. After this, the fee will stand at $109,500 per fiscal year.

The agreement comes at a time when the Medford police have seen suspects lodged in jail on dozens of municipal warrants, only to have them sprung from jail without hours of lodging because of overcrowding, Medford police Chief Tim George said.

"You have people with 10 to 15 warrants who are released early and then don't show up for court," George said. "So then you add one more warrant for their arrest for failure to appear. It's a cycle we need to break."

The idea is that by having three secure spaces available in the jail, the worst of the lot will serve out sentences for their municipal crimes and actually appear in court when required.

These suspects are mostly shoplifters and those who commit misdemeanor assaults who appear in Medford Municipal Court. None of their crimes rises to the level of a felony; however, many choose not to show up to their court dates when cited to appear before a municipal judge, George said.

"It's labor-intensive and expensive for us because we then have to process the warrant, it goes to a records person who then sends it out to our officers," George said. "Then the officer has to serve the warrant, take the person to jail, only to see them leave within hours of getting there."

The goal is to relieve officers from running-in these "frequent flyers" who walk around with a string of warrants hanging over them.

"By keeping these 'frequent flyers' in jail, it reduces our workload and allows us to focus on other issues," George said.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters welcomed the agreement because it allows Medford police to keep these problematic lawbreakers in check, and brings in much-needed revenue to the county.

"It's a win-win for both of us," Winters said.

At some point in the next few months, Winters hopes to open the newest wing of the jail, which will increase the amount of beds from about 230 to around 300. The sheriff is hiring deputies to staff the jail.

"We hope to have the new space open sometime in the first quarter of next year," Winters said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email

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