The concept of Community Corrections, which allows convicted felons to be supervised in the community in lieu of holding them in custody, has consistently been an important element of the local Criminal Justice system. In previous years, Parole and Probation services have been seen primarily the responsibility of the State of Oregon Department of Corrections. However in more recent years a slow shift in responsibility has been to move these services more and more to local control, and in May of 1996 the County of Coos assumed full responsibility for Community Corrections Parole and Probation services.
Community corrections occupies a unique position in the local criminal justice system. Viewed by many as a Human Resources service, community corrections also has a law enforcement role. This dual aspect places Parole and Probation officers squarely between the human resources and the law enforcement arenas. On any given day a Parole/Probation officer may be required to return an offender to custody for violating a release condition and then, before the day is over, sit down with that same offender and start the process of assisting his/her return to the community. Parole/Probation officers must continually play with this balance of roles to maintain public safety and yet be sympathetic to the needs of the offender and the best interests of the public.
Historically, Coos County has experienced a significant rate of reported crime. The communities response was to pass a levy to fund the construction of a new county jail. This facility capable of housing 179 inmates was opened in May of 1988. Beginning January 1997, the County Jail began housing all inmates with sentences of one year or less. The State Department of Corrections provided construction funding for these additional inmates which has raised the jail capacity to 264 beds. With adequate bed space in the local jail, the Courts and Community Corrections have been able to implement policies which enhance the effectiveness and seriousness of formal probation.
However, in 2007 a reduction in county revenue reduced the capacity of the jail to a total of 98 beds.
With revenue reductions at all levels of government, Communtiy Corrections has focused our efforts towards becoming more innovative and incorporating Evidenced-Based Practices (EBP) in our approach to dealing with criminal offenders. We believe that accountability is a centerpeice of this endeavor. Community Corrections' funds are currently used to provide supervision of criminal offenders, cognitive and behavioral interventions, sanctions and jail bed funding. We believe in a balanced approach that focuses on both accountability and assisting criminal offenders towards engaging in positive change.