Coos County hopes to increase jail beds in 2018 after staffing issues caused shortage

(SBG photo)

COQUILLE, Ore. -- The Coos County Sheriff's Office plans to expand the number of jail beds next year.

In 2015, bed space was reduced due to a staffing shortage, but the sheriff's office has been working to change that situation.

Due to staffing shortages, bed space was reduced from 98 to 49.

The lack of jail space, combined with an increase in criminals, has led to overcrowding and early releases.

In one case, a man was arrested twice in the same day - the first time for hit and run and then again for theft after he was released.

"It shouldn't be, well, you know, ‘we can kind of let a burglar or two go free and we can save a buck,’ is that really right? To those two people that are victimized, that's devastating," explained Coos County Sheriff Craig Zanni.

Adding to the overcrowding, the jail also houses inmates who would have been in the state corrections system.

Coos County Commissioner John Sweet says the state provides funds to the county to avoid transferring some inmates to the state prison.

"The state provides the money for these services because they feel they save a lot of money by not having to add another prison to the state prison system," Sweet said.

New deputies are being trained to run the jail and the county plans to expand the number of jail beds next year.

The sheriff's office hopes to open the second jail pod by March 1, but that could bring some new challenges to the department.

According to Sheriff Zanni: "All the new people we hired, save one, we've pushed everybody to the correction division because that serves the community. It doesn't necessarily serve the sheriff's office because I'm short of people on patrol."

Despite the challenges, Zanni says they have the public's best interest in mind.

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