The Bulletin recently ran a story that Josephine, Curry and Lane counties have to raise taxes to make up for budget cuts for local sheriff’s patrols. There is more to this story than has been told.
As the conservative Grover Norquist pointed out in your paper last November, proven local programs to protect public safety and supervise offenders so they won’t repeat crimes have been cut throughout Oregon while state spending has shifted to put more and more nonviolent offenders in prison.
If you look at the counties you focused on, in the past four years Josephine County’s state funding for community corrections was cut 22 percent. Curry County’s was cut 31 percent. Lane County’s was cut 12 percent.
Those cuts helped pay to increase state prison spending three times faster than the national average or the increase in the state’s population.
In fact, Oregon’s prison population surged by almost 50 percent in the past decade, and will cost $600 million more over the next decade.
Voters in lots of counties will have to choose between more cuts in local sheriff’s patrols and supervision of probation, or else larger tax increases.
The bipartisan Commission on Public Safety has given the Legislature recommendations that would prevent crimes at the local level instead of creating more prison beds.
As Norquist said, “all 17 states that reduced incarceration rates between 2000 and 2010 saw their crime rates fall as well.”
Protecting public safety in the most cost-effective way is something both parties in the Legislature should be able to support.
Rick Treleaven, executive director, BestCare Treatment Services