Jackson County Responds To Extra Parolees

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Like many community members, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department is concerned about the thousands of prisoners about to be paroled to save the state money. So Sheriff Dan Heyns says he's upping the ante.

"We're going to be randomly checking their residence, places of employment, sobriety tests, drug tests-- but on a random basis so they know we'll be just around the corner," he says.

It's called Operation Nighthawk. County, city and state police are collaborating with parole agents starting this month-- well before those prisoners are even paroled.

"I do think it sends a message to the public that we're concerned about this and public safety," Heyns says.

Officers from each department will devote weekly shifts to checking up on area parolees. And the county prosecutor has promised to go after any parolee in violation of these new terms. They're pledging these actions for a reason.

"We've found traditionally parolees disproportionately account for a lot of violent crime," Heyns says. He adds 50 percent of parolees re-offend once out of jail.

But even with these added measures, some community members worry so-called non-violent parolees will act out.

"If they had tethers, I'd be happier," says Jackson resident Dr. Ed Mathein. "It's easy to get lost. I don't care how clever you are. [The parolees] can easily lose you. This still gives me some concern."

For now, Sheriff Heyns has faith in his proactive measure.

"We want to reassure the public we are doing something in advance of these closures," he says.

Heyns doesn't want community members to suffer even more from the state's financial burdens.

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