Work crews at Jackson County Community Justice's Transition Center are now eligible to do maintenance and landscape work for private companies.
The Board of Commissioners passed the resolution at its weekly public meeting Wednesday. It's a decision that reverses a historic trend where crews made up of Community Justice offenders making the transition back into mainstream society could do work only for public entities and nonprofits.
There is a catch, however. The work-based restitution can be done only for companies whose projects have gone to bid but not attracted any bites from private-sector companies. The commissioners said they didn't want the county to compete with the private sector.
"We had restricted (crews) only to public work, but now they can do private work again, with a caveat," said Commissioner and Chairman Don Skundrick.
County officials added the agreement has multiple benefits: It meets the needs of some private-sector entities, brings in more money to pay for Transition Center programs, and potentially offsets some taxpayer costs.
"It opens up another avenue for us," said Shane Hagey, Jackson County Community Justice director.
The work done includes painting, brush clearing, litter removal and landscape maintenance. The idea stemmed from work Transition Center crews had done after being approached by some private companies that came up short during the bidding process. One of these projects included brush clearing along some railroad right of way that hadn't received any bids.
"These are things somebody's already been trying to get," Hagey said.
Currently, crews of six to eight offenders collect around $400 a day for work. On average, about 80 offenders are eligible to do the work. The county's existing rule requiring board approval on contracts exceeding $30,000 would not change.
A provision in the Oregon Constitution allows counties to opt in to similar agreements. Passed Nov. 8, 1994, it is found in Article 1, Section 41.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.