Overtaxed system targets repeat offenders

Local agencies are teaming up to go after people who repeatedly commit crimes and fail to appear in court — putting a disproportionate strain on the Jackson County criminal justice system.

The Jackson County Jail will reserve up to 10 jail beds so it can hold repeat offenders long enough for them to have their cases processed through court, said Sheriff Nathan Sickler.

"They'll be given priority over someone else unless the other person's crime is egregious," he said. "The court, the District Attorney's Office and our Jackson County Sheriff's Office records staff will cooperate to get those cases to go through the criminal justice system."

The Jackson County Community Justice department, Sheriff's Office jail staff and the Medford Police Department are also cooperating, he said.

If convicted, some of those defendants could be shipped off to prison. Others could be sentenced to probation, where they could go through programs such as drug addiction and mental health treatment, Sickler said.

"It's a good thing to try," he said. "We don't know if it will work. Everyone is optimistic that this will help. It's a way of thinking outside the box. These cases will be well worth the 10 beds."

The Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail, is compiling a list of about two dozen people who have the worst records when it comes to failing to appear in court and otherwise taxing the criminal justice system, Sickler said.

He said police are repeatedly called out to deal with certain people, who are then taken to jail but are often released quickly because they are charged with low level crimes.

The 292-bed jail regularly releases inmates due to overcrowding.

Holding certain inmates longer could also help the defense attorneys assigned to their cases, Sickler said.

"When you're kicked out of jail rapidly that makes the defense attorney's job harder," he said. "When defendants leave the jail, the attorneys can't assess them and prepare a defense to represent them appropriately."

Wesley Kevin Hoseclaw, 53, is one of the first people to be held in jail longer as part of the crackdown on repeat offenders.

"He drains the system and he causes concern for the community," Sickler said.

Hoseclaw was arrested on Feb. 9 and is being held on $35,000 bail, jail records show.

"Our goal is that he will stay there," Sickler said.

Hoseclaw has two open cases in Jackson County Circuit Court charging him with unlawful use of a weapon, menacing, harassment and second-degree disorderly conduct, court records show.

Since 1988, he has amassed a list of court cases that, when printed out, runs to 3½ pages.

The cases started as a string of traffic tickets, morphed into a long list of disorderly conduct and trespassing behavior that alarmed the public, then took a more serious turn when Hoseclaw was convicted of attempted rape in 2012, court records show.

Numerous cases of menacing, disorderly conduct and failing to register as a sex offender followed, according to court records.

In a recent incident in December 2017, Hoseclaw was arrested after allegedly chasing people at a bar with a stick and swinging it at them. He has a trial scheduled for March 28, according to court records.

People with untreated chronic, severe mental illness or with a gradually worsening addiction often have criminal record patterns of early driving-related violations, followed by low-level misdemeanor crimes and then a growing number of serious felonies.

Sickler said Hoseclaw likely has mental health issues and needs intervention.

"In jail there are opportunities for our mental health folks to talk to him and treat him," Sickler said.

— Reach staff reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

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