City Club Open Forum: Does Benton County Need a New Jail?

Floor plan for proposed Benton County jail
Floor plan for proposed Benton County jail


Does Benton County need a new jail, and does it need to be almost triple the capacity of the current facility? Will it improve public safety? How much will it cost to operate?

These are among the questions to be addressed at a meeting hosted by the Corvallis City Club in anticipation of a November 3 referendum asking voters to approve issuance of up to $25 million in bonds to build a new jail near Philomath.

The meeting will be held at 7 pm Tuesday, October 6 at the Majestic Theater in downtown Corvallis. It is free and open to the public. No registration is necessary.

Benton County currently leases about half its jail capacity from outside the area. The sheriff’s office has stated that building new capacity would increase public safety and potentially allow the department to offer inmates mental health assistance when they need it. A community group has formed in opposition.

On hand for this discussion and audience questions will be Benton County Sheriff Scott Jackson, Presiding Benton County Circuit Court Judge David B. Connell, District Attorney John Haroldson and Citizens Against a New Jail chairman David Grappo. City Club leaders will moderate.

2 Responses to “City Club Open Forum: Does Benton County Need a New Jail?”

  1. Donna Lattin

    I just learned of your Jail Forum tomorrow evening. I am not affiliated with Mr. Grappo’s campaign but I do bring another perspective to the conversation regarding why citizens should vote against the Jail bond measure. I am co-author of the National Institute of Correction’s guidebook, “Jail Capacity Planning: A Systems Approach” and have spent the last 20 years working with counties across the nation conducting criminal justice system assessments to guide jail planning. A justice system master plan should be a precursor to any jail planning. A master plan allows a county to plan future detention capacity based on system strategies to mitigate the demand on the jail. This is recommended practice. Across the country jail planning is taking place in the context of system reforms; changes in practices from pre-booking alternatives and bail reform to sentencing alternatives and innovations in jail re-entry altering are helping bend the curve on jail usage. Justice reforms are helping jurisdictions to view the jail as one part of a larger continuum. I would be happy to participate in tomorrow’s event if there is an opportunity. Thank you. Donna Lattin 541-760-2711

  2. Anna Sontag

    I sure wish we had seen this in time, Donna. That is an important perspective, which embraces need and sociological / political / strategic / legal concerns. I hope the city club planners will consider an event about the justice system and the prison system, recognized as an ineffective pairing based on an incorrect assumption. Thank you Donna.

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