Juvenile court charges rise over past year

Audrey Caro

Court charges against juveniles are up in Linn County from last year according to a report presented to the Linn County Board of Commissioners on April 24.

Commissioner Will Tucker asked Juvenile Department Director Torri Lynn about the spike.

“We had a change in our deputy district attorney that works with us and so that makes a big difference,” Lynn said.

Tucker asked him if he thought the new deputy district attorney, Jonathan Crow, was more aggressive.

“I think so,” Lynn said. “I would have expected petitions would be up.”

In a conversation following the meeting, Lynn said he thinks there is more accountability.

Sometimes, particularly in the case of first-time offenders, the juvenile department will meet with the juvenile and his or her family to work out a formal accountability agreement.

Tha may include education, an apology or restitution, Lynn said.

Commissioner Roger Nyquist asked about funding from HB 3194, a public safety reform bill passed in 2013 with the goal of saving money in Oregon’s prison system.

Some of the savings is to be used by local governments to help “keep offenders from committing new crimes,” according to report by The Oregonian.

Lynn said the county doesn’t get anything.

“(The Criminal Justice Commission) said that didn’t quickly or directly impact prison usage because using it on juveniles (didn’t) directly impact prison, so we had to take that out of our plan,” Lynn said.

One way to address the prison population is to start upstream, he said.

Nyquist responded: “I guess the crux of the impasse is the county’s goal with the money is to impact things in a way that crime actually decreases.”

Lynn said he thinks the state’s goal is immediate impact.

“They don’t want people sent there,” Nyquist said. “The only way to not send people there is to offer more plea agreements.”

Nyquist asked Lynn about parents who contact the juvenile department for help when they think their child is headed down the wrong path.

“We get calls like that all the time,” Lynn said.

One of the resources is through the Linn-Benton-Lincoln Education Service District.

The juvenile department makes a referral for the family to contact the ESD.

If there are mental health, drug or alcohol issues, they are given numbers to self-refer, he said.

“If they need assistance we’ll help them do that,” Lynn said. “We try to empower them as much as we can to try do whatever they can on their own.”

In other business last week, the Board of Commissioners:

– Authorized a $15,000 transfer from the 2016-17 Special Transportation Funds contingency and $25,000 fro the STF Supplement account to the 2018-19 STF account.

– Approved 2018-19 STF fund allocations to 12 programs, including $98,000 to the Linn Shuttle.

– Authorized the Special/Rural Transportation coordinator and the county attorney to prepare intergovernmental agreements and subrecipient agreements between the agencies and the county.

– Allocated $6,400 from STF fund for planning consultant services related to the Linn-Benton Loop.

– Authorized the Special/Rural Transportation coordinator and the county attorney to draft amendments and bylaws for the Transportation Advisory Committee consistent with HB 2017, which provides public transportation funds through a tax on employees.

– Approved the use of County Road 611 in Scio by the Linn County Lamb and Wool Fair Association for the annual parade and related activities.

– Approved a $103,000 transfer within the Linn County Expo funds from personal services to capital outlay.

– Approved a $100,000 transfer from the general fund contingency to Public Health.