PENDLETON, Oregon – Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan is working on getting the ball rolling for the state-funded remodel of the jail. The project will create more space in the holding area, which will better accommodate suspects who are suffering from substance abuse or mental health problems.
After three years of trying to get the project funded, Rowan was successful, and now he has a whole batch of details to handle. Renovating an office building is easy, but Rowan points out that it’s different when the building houses suspected criminals.
“The contractors will need to go through a full background check,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re not letting the fox in the hen house.”
The sheriff is also planning meetings with the jail command staff.
“We have to figure out what areas we can repurpose temporarily, and try to come up with a solid plan on how we’re going to address especially those high-needs individuals,” he said.
Rowan also said that during construction it may become necessary to put a cap on the prison population. He will be discussing the remodel and its ramifications with area law enforcement.