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Jail becomes a revolving door over the weekend

As fast as Medford police arrested suspects over the weekend, they had to turn them loose because of overcrowding at the jail.

"It's the revolving door of the criminal justice system," Medford police Sgt. Geoff Kirkpatrick said.

Police arrested more than a dozen people during a bar sweep Saturday night, finding suspects with methamphetamine who were also wanted for failing to appear on their court date.

"We give them a new court date and hope they will appear again," he said.

Police are accompanied by probation officers who recognize many of their clients during the bar sweeps when they hit the Purple Parrots and other local establishments.

Many of the suspects are referred to as "frequent flyers" by police.

On a slow day, police can arrest about 15 people, but  Saturday and Sunday they snagged more than 30, Kirkpatrick said.

"We arrested a lot of folks over the last 24 hours," he said.

He said that other than the bar sweep, another 15 were arrested during the day on Sunday and up to 10 overnight in other locations.

Police bring the suspects to the jail, where they are processed and then turned loose.

According to jail records, 17 suspects were released either on their own recognizance or because the jail was nearing capacity.

A majority of the offenses related to possession of methamphetamine, but suspects who had been involved in thefts, harassments, disorderly conduct, forgery, possessing burglary tools and even failing to appear as a registered sex offender were also turned loose.

Kirkpatrick said police will continue to make as many arrests as necessary, then bring them into Jackson County Jail, which is under the jurisdiction of the sheriff's department.

"We don't have any control over how the sheriff's office releases," he said.

Kirkpatrick said the jail tries its best to keep suspects, but because of limited space has to prioritize who stays and who goes.

In April 2014, another 62 more inmates could be housed in the jail after it underwent a $2.7 million remodeling project. That brought the total capacity to 292 inmates.

In 2013, nearly 5,000 of the 11,482 offenders lodged in the jail were quickly released because of space constraints.

After the beds were added, the number of prisoners released to prevent the jail from being overcrowded appeared to put a dent in the "catch and release" problem.

—Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/reporterdm.