Sheriff Says High Sherman County Prison Admissions Are Not Fault of Residents

A small rural county in Oregon has incarcerated more prison inmates per 1,000 people than any other area in the state. Sherman County, Oregon is home to only about 1,800 residents, but five of last year’s prison sentences originated in the tiny locale.

To be specific, the incarcerations were tallied from June, 2012 to June of 2013. Considering the sparse population, five prison admissions translates into almost three arrests per thousand people! According to this statistic, arrests resulting in prison time are more than twice as likely in the small farming county than anywhere else in Oregon.

Second generation Sheriff Brad Lohrey says that the felonies are not because of the locals behaving badly. “I know everybody by first and last name in the county” he boasted. The high crime statistic is a result of transients committing serious crimes within the county’s borders. Sherman County is home to three fishing rivers which attract several visitors who often consume alcohol and end up in the custody of the county’s sheriff’s deputies. Lohrey further stated that he rarely arrested county residents.

The county is also located along the two major thoroughfares of Interstate 84 and U.S. Highway 97. Recently enhanced drug detection measures have increased arrests along the expressways; new canine teams have almost doubled drug arrests. Authorities note that new drug detection initiatives have aided in the discovery that U.S. 97 is a favorite route of drug smugglers.

Of course, a higher number of prison sentences were doled out in counties with larger populations; Marion County had 646 admissions to prison with a statistic of only 2.14 per thousand residents. Sherman County tops this list only because of the combination of a small population and a high amount of felons passing through.