Thursday, July 31, 2014

On Wednesday night's broadcast of the television program "The O'Reilly Factor" host Bill O'Reilly talked about the release of an inmate from the Clatsop County jail who then ended up months later convicted in the murder of a teenager and another woman in Portland.  O'Reilly said he wanted to know the name of the person responsible for the release of that inmate. Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin says he is scheduled to appear on the O'Reilly Factor next Thursday to discuss this matter and has provided KAST News with a copy of his response to O'Reilly.

Mark Beebout was released under the matrix system from the Clatsop County Jail in Astoria because of overcrowding. District Attorney Josh Marquis said at the time the murders were reported that Beebout was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender and faced 14 months in prison. But he was released last May as an overflow inmate and failed to return to court for sentencing. In June he killed a 15-year-old San Diego girl he met at a Portland homeless shelter. In July Beebout killed a volunteer from the same shelter. Beebout pleaded guilty to aggravated murders and was sentenced last week to life in prison.

 Clatsop County voters have repeatedly rejected measures to build a larger county jail facility.  The latest was a measure that would have increased the capacity of the jail by moving out the Sheriff's office to the old county transition center in Warrenton and building an addition to the current jail building.

Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin responded to the show's producer after seeing the show:

Saw your show last night and if O'Rielly wants to blame anyone he can blame me.

I have a jail that was built approx. 40 years ago to hold 29 inmates. For the record, I was 15 years of age. It was double bunked within the first year and we currently house 60. There have been 4 Jail studies done the last several years that advise we need about 180 beds for this community. Last May during the primary, I had 4 individuals without any foundation of knowledge run against me who all stated we did not need a jail expansion. At the jeopardy of my own re-election I put it on the ballot because it was the right thing for me to do as Sheriff.  I was able to get the bond to 8 cents a day per average household here in Clatsop County but it still failed due to all the hype about taking care of these inmates through other means.  The measure failed however the eyes of the voters have been opened especially after the Beebout incident.

Now, to top it all off the Governor of Oregon wants to reduce State prison beds and change or should I say reduce conviction times which would put an even greater burden on local county jails such as mine which cannot already handle the flow. The Governor called on the left wing think tank called the PEW  which has a completely skewed point of view when it comes to incarceration. I have stated for years it is only a matter of time before we release someone who will go out and commit some terrible crime and now it has happened. Also the State if they would open their eyes only has to look as far as Clatsop County to see what will happen if there is a reduction in Prison beds and sentences.

When people are not held accountable for their actions this is what you get. I do not sleep at night worrying about who is coming in and who is that I will have to release and if O'Rielly wants to blame someone then I am willing to carry that burden. Believe me I would much rather take these guys out to the swamp and tie them to a stump as the Charlie Daniels song goes however then that would make me no better than them now would it. We do the best we can with what we have and I will continue to uphold the law and lock up the bad guys to the best of my ability.

Sheriff Tom Bergin

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