Oregon News, Aug. 29th – Sheriff Sickler Responds To Corrections State Funding

The latest News around the State of Oregon from RogueValleyMagazine.com

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Rogue Valley Weather

Today
A 20% chance of afternoon showers in the valley. Sunny, with a high near 95.

Friday
Sunny, with a high near 93.

Saturday
Sunny, with a high near 91.

Sunday
Sunny, with a high near 89.

Labor Day
Sunny, with a high near 87.

TODAY’s OREGON HEADLINES…

On Wednesday, just before 6pm, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to the report of a single vehicle crash on I-5 at milepost 71.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Nissan Versa, operated by George Kachigian (84) of Grants Pass, was traveling northbound on I-5 when the Versa lost control and struck the center concrete median.  The Versa overturned and came to rest on the right shoulder of the road. 

Kachigian sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler offers the following statement in reaction to an article published in The Oregonian on August 27, 2019.  Sickler responded today:

You may have read news reports this week about an upcoming change in state funding for corrections programs.  While we will not receive full funding in Jackson County, we believe we will be able to avoid a reduction in corrections services.  However, with the enhanced budget indicated in the article, we could have been in a position to bolster programs that are much needed in our community.  

The state cuts affect programs designed to reduce county jail and state prison populations – a theme that has been touted by state government and law enforcement officials for years.  I won’t get into the weeds regarding the decision-making process that led to this change.  But, to me, it seems counterintuitive to reduce funding to the very programs that work to reduce recidivism and to help stop the “revolving door” of the criminal justice system.  

I would like to bring your attention to an excerpt from the Oregonian article, citing Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese regarding a pending 6% reduction in his county’s jail capacity.

“At that level, he said, the county would be at 95 percent capacity daily, requiring ‘significant’ emergency releases of inmates from jail that would be ‘catastrophic’ to the criminal justice system.”

Without making light of the situation in Multnomah County, what Sheriff Reese describes as “catastrophic” for his community has, unfortunately, been a reality in Jackson County for years.  The emergency release of inmates when a jail reaches or nears capacity – also known as a “forced release” – is normal here.  Our jail operates above 95% capacity every day.    

To put it into perspective, consider that Multnomah County – which has nearly four times the population of Jackson County – reported 186 forced releases from its jail in 2018.  In the same year, we had 5300 forced releases in Jackson County. 

While that may seem like a staggering comparison, consider that it has been worse.  We have made some progress in reducing forced releases over the last few years.  The 2018 total was a reduction from approximately 7000 in 2017 and 8600 in 2016.  We are on pace for about 4050 forced releases in 2019, which is a significant improvement, but it still means that inmates are being released before their cases go to court thousands of times every year.  A lack of jail space is clearly the weak link in our local system. 

We will continue to work with our community partners to work within the limited jail space we have.  But I will also continue to explore ways to fund a new, effective corrections facility that is adequate to handle the public safety issues that affect our community.

Thank you,
Sheriff Nathan Sickler

Grants Pass Fugitives Captured

On August 13, Michael Christopher Hardy was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Las Vegas Nevada.  Between 2013 and 2014, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety opened several fraud/theft investigations involving Michael Hardy. 

The investigations revealed at least 15 local residents were defrauded by Hardy, and his girlfriend Debra “Cox” Hardy.  The total amount of monetary loss among the victims is believed to exceed $100,000.  Michael Hardy and Debra “Cox” Hardy were indicted by a Josephine County Grand Jury in February of 2014.  Michael was indicted on 22 counts of Theft in the first degree, two counts of Aggravated Theft in the first degree, and one count of theft in the second degree.  Michael and Debra “Cox” Hardy left Grants Pass before they could be arrested and have been fugitives for several years. Michael Hardy was lodged at the Clark County Jail. Hardy is fighting extradition back to Oregon.  The process has begun in order to have Hardy extradited back to Oregon to face the charges.

Working in cooperation with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Fugitive Unit, Grants Pass Police urged  Debra”Cox” Hardy to contact officials in Nevada in order to obtain information on Michael Hardy’s custody status. On August 24th, 2019 Debra “Cox” Hardy was contacted at the Clark County Jail.  “Cox” Hardy was arrested by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police on similar charges as Michael Hardy.  Debra “Cox” Hardy is also fighting extradition back to Oregon to face local charges.  The Grants Pass Department of Public Safety would like to thank the U.S. Marshal Service, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for their assistance.  

A White City resident is suing the U.S. State Department for twice declining to issue her a U.S. passport even though her lawyer says she presented federal government officials with a certified birth certificate from a Los Angeles County hospital.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon filed the suit Tuesday in federal court in Medford on behalf of Maria Qarrillo Soto age 48 who has lived in Oregon for 30 years.

Soto, a married mother of two grown daughters who now lives in White City, was denied a U.S. passport in 2018 despite providing government officials with the original birth certificate and copies of her Social Security card, driver’s license and marriage certificate and medical records from her pregnancy according to her attorney.

Good new if you’re planning on a driving trip Labor Day weekend. Pump prices continue to edge lower and drivers taking that last summer road trip will enjoy cheaper gas prices than last year’s Labor Day holiday.

For the week, the national average for regular falls two cents to $2.59 a gallon. The Oregon average loses three cents to $3.05.

“The national average is poised to be the cheapest for Labor Day in three years, while the Oregon average will be the cheapest in two years,” according to Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon. “Gas prices in the majority of states are 20 to 40 cents lower than a year ago.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says she wants to call a special session of the Legislature to address concerns about whether a new law narrowing the state’s use of the death penalty is retroactive.

The Oregon Department of Justice said in a recent opinion that former death row inmate Martin Allen Johnson cannot be sentenced to death upon retrial because of the new law.

Brown told reporters Wednesday she believes the new law needs clarity and wants lawmakers to make proposals. She hopes a special session would last less than one day. House Republican Leader Carl Wilson said repealing the bill might be the best course of action in a special session, allowing ample time before the 2020 regular session to analyze the issue.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds everyone that forest grouse, mourning dove and quail in western Oregon all open this Saturday.  

Remember to buy your Upland Game Bird Validation, which is valid from July 1 to June 30, and hunters are reminded to check for fire restrictions before hunting. ODFW does not close hunting seasons due to fire danger, however, hunters may face restrictions and reduced access to private lands during the season.

State economists say Oregon taxpayers will see the largest-ever state income tax refund next year thanks to state revenue coming in at more than 9% above projections.

They say the top 1% of taxpayers can expect refunds of $15,214, while the median refund will be $346. The average payout to all taxpayers is expected to be $739. A total of more than $1.57 billion is expected to flow back to personal income taxpayers after they file their 2019 returns.

Under state law, a “kicker” is triggered whenever actual personal income tax receipts come in at least 2% higher than initial projections. In such cases any money collected above initial forecasts flows back to taxpayers in the form of tax credits.

Anglers planning to fish the second season for ocean coho salmon on the central Oregon coast are reminded that the fishery is closed to retention of all coho salmon through Friday Aug. 30.

The first open coho salmon retention date for the area between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain is Saturday, Aug. 31.

Coho salmon may be retained as part of the two salmon daily bag limit beginning this Saturday, Aug. 31 and Sunday, Sept. 1. Thereafter, the fishery is open each Friday through Sunday period through the end of September, or until the quota is met (whichever comes first).

The fishery is closed to the retention of coho salmon on Mondays through Thursdays in September, but remains open to the retention of Chinook salmon on those days.  Managers will review coho salmon catches weekly to determine if modifications to the fishery are needed.

Oregon’s health care agency said Tuesday it will no longer use federal dollars to fund family planning clinics because of new Trump administration rules that impose additional hurdles for women seeking abortion.

Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority said in a statement that banning taxpayer-funded clinics from making abortion referrals as the newly implemented federal rules require would cause Oregon to violate its own laws on reproductive care. The new federal rules also prohibit clinics that receive federal funds from sharing office space with abortion providers.

Oregon has used the so-called Title X grants to fund clinics since 1970 and OHA says clinics funded by those grants served more than 44,000 women statewide in 2018. Title X has funneled $14.5 million into Oregon’s clinics in the past five years. The state says it has other funds it will use to cover those costs, Allen said.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), which includes the Oregon Main Street Network and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), was awarded $665,000 in federal grant funding to implement a grant program for the preservation of historic theaters.  

The grant was one of nine awarded nationally through the National Park Service Historic Revitalization Subgrant Program.    The grant will support the Oregon Historic Theaters Subgrant Program to offer grants for the preservation of historic theaters in communities with a population below 30,000. The theaters must be listed in the National Register of Historic Places or meet the criteria for listing. 

“We’re thrilled to bring these dollars to Oregon to support rural historic theaters,” said Chrissy Curran, Deputy State Historic Preservation. “They are critical economic drivers and cultural resources for communities.”

OPRD will partner with Restore Oregon, a statewide nonprofit, to ensure that historic theaters throughout the state are aware of the grants and to support them through the application process. OPRD will develop the program through the fall and the grant application opening will be announced this winter.   The program focus on theaters was born from several years of collaboration around the state. Pacific Power and Oregon Main Street implemented an outreach program called the “Power of Main Street” to discuss downtown revitalization efforts, downtown needs, and priority projects especially related to energy efficiency.

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