Monday, February 28, 2005

Can't Do the Time....

In Eugene, Oregon, even when you have done the crime:

The continuing saga of Lane County's jail bed shortage brought the release last week of a career burglar who served 12 1/2 years in prison following a murder during a 1983 Florida break-in.

Michael William Duska, 44, got out of Lane County Jail because of overcrowding on Tuesday. That was one day before he was scheduled to be in court to get a 34-month prison sentence for burglaries in Lane County - including one on Christmas Day during which a homeowner with a gun confronted him, according to a police report.

Duska did not show up in court to get his sentence, prompting a judge to complain that he should have stayed in jail.

That's easier said than done in Lane County, says sheriff's Capt. John Clague, who manages the jail, where officials must release inmates virtually every day to comply with a federal court order controlling over- crowding.

To make required releases they use a new assessment tool that weighs more than 50 aspects of an inmate's history, living circumstances and current charges to determine an inmate's risk of failing to appear in court, committing more crimes and violent behavior.

The assessment replaces the former "matrix" system, which took into account only the inmate's current crime and past record.

Duska scored high on the possibilities that, if released, he would fail to appear in court and commit more crimes, Clague says.

Duska ordinarily would not be released, based on his risk level, Clague says.
But with 340 jail beds - not counting 119 idled by budget cuts - someone had to go. To hold

Duska would have meant releasing someone even more risky, Clague says.

"It continues to tell the story: There is not enough jail space to hold people who are a risk," Clague says.

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