EUGENE — A man who was among about 30 inmates released Thursday from the Lane County Jail in a budget move is accused of robbing a bank less than an hour later, authorities say.
Eugene police arrested Christopher Franklin Weaver, 33, shortly after a robbery at a Pacific Continental Bank branch, The Register-Guard reported. Officers handed him over to FBI officials, who took him back to the jail.
Weaver was among inmates released at 11 a.m. The bank was robbed at 11:55 a.m.
“This isn’t necessarily a worst-case scenario, but it’s a very bad case,” said county sheriff’s Sgt. Carrie Carver.
As a federal inmate, Weaver will remain in jail unless a federal judge authorizes his release. He was previously jailed on a parole violation stemming from a conviction for second-degree sexual abuse.
Sheriff Tom Turner said recently he needed to close 35 beds because federal demand for space in the county facility had unexpectedly decreased, meaning the U.S. Marshals Service was paying the county less than it had previously.
The jail is large enough to hold nearly 500 people, but now has just 135 beds available for local offenders. Fifty-five additional beds are designated for federal prisoners, while 15 more are rented by the city.
Thursday’s exodus was the second time this year that the county has reduced available jail space. In June, 96 beds were closed to allow the sheriff’s office to balance its budget for the current fiscal year.
Since then, dozens of inmates have been forced out each week to clear space for others considered to pose a greater danger to the public.
“As we get smaller, the people we release get more dangerous,” Jail Commander Greg Fox said.
Three of the latest inmates freed have been accused of offenses that would result in mandatory prison sentences if they are convicted, the newspaper reported.
Fox said inmates understand the situation.
“Most are just counting their hours, expecting to be the next one to go,” he said.
The sheriff’s office is cutting six jail deputy positions to offset the projected $750,000 reduction in federal revenue in this fiscal year. Three deputies are retiring, while three more are being laid off, Fox said.