COOS COUNTY — Last week, Coos County commissioners heard a presentation from the Coos County Community Corrections Department seeking approval of its 2019-21 corrections plan.
The department, which develops and submits plans every two years, updated commissioners on its programs, goals and budget in regards to the services it provides for the county’s criminal offenders.
Mike Crim, Coos County Community Corrections director, said the main goal the department has always had is to ensure the public’s safety by effectively supervising parolees and probationers.
“Our focus continues to be on reducing criminal behavior and providing services to the population,” said Crim. “We want to impact their behavior and get them to turn their lives around.”
Currently, the department provides a range of rehabilitative services to offenders, including drug and alcohol counseling and treatment as well as transitional housing. The housing program helps offenders stay clean and sober and puts them on a path toward finding meaningful employment, said Crim.
According to the community corrections’ updated plan, the programs and services the department offers is ultimately aimed at helping offenders overcome “the despair and rooted habits of drug and alcohol use, theft, sporadic employment, endless poverty and criminal thinking.”
As of Aug. 26, the department was supervising approximately 629 cases throughout the county. On average, the department will manage about 600 cases, but that number is always fluctuating due to multiple factors, including cases being transferred, expired, warrants, or new cases coming in, said Crim.
“We mainly supervise felony cases,” said Crim. “Now we’re supervising local misdemeanor cases which we don’t get any money for with the exception of (possession of a controlled substance) misdemeanors that the state recently reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.”
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The department is currently supervising a total of 258 people in Coos County who have drug cases. Of those, about 21 people are being supervised for misdemeanor drug cases.
In the past, drug offenses were the primary cases the department supervised followed by cases of burglary/theft and offenses involving sex crimes.
In 1995, Senate Bill 1145 established the current ongoing relationship the state has with local county-run community corrections departments across Oregon. Under the bill, counties assumed responsibilities for felons who were either on parole, probation or post-prison supervision, usually offenders serving prison sentences of 12 months or less.
Along with the bill outlining the state and county’s responsibilities, it also established the state’s commitment to funding community corrections departments statewide through grants to assist them in their efforts to provide supervision services.
Recently, Oregon lawmakers proposed certain cuts to the community corrections budget to reflect an overall reduced budget of $268 million for 2019-2021. Crim said the cuts, which are about a $5 million drop from the last approved budget, will not negatively impact Coos County at least for the next two years.
“We should be OK with delivering the services that we planned,” he said. “In the future I don’t know. The things that could really impact our budget, especially our secondary grants not our primary grants, would be if the state builds a new prison. It would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and I suspect the secondary grants would dry out.”
The 2019-2021 Coos County Community Corrections budget is estimated to be about $8.9 million. Last Tuesday, the commissioners approved the plan, which was approved in July by the Local Public Safety Coordination Council, to be submitted to the Oregon Department of Corrections.
“Every year we reevaluate and look at things to see if we can make our department better,” said Crim. “So far, I think we’re doing a pretty effective job with the majority of offended population.”