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State Lawmaker's Proposal Could Save Junction City's Psychiatric Facility

Brian Bull

The Oregon State Hospital in Junction City could be axed as part of Governor Brown’s broad budget cuts.  But as KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, a state lawmaker is working on a proposal that could spare the psychiatric facility. 

In trying to fix the state’s $1.6 billion budget shortfall, the governor has considered permanently closing the hospital next year…which would save nearly $35 million annually.

But Democratic State Senator James Manning of District 7 says he’s hoping that some additional, unused space at the facility could ease prison overcrowding.  He spoke to KLCC while touring the hospital.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Democratic State Senator James Manning (near center) is greeted by local officials representing Junction City and the Oregon State Hospital.

“Some time ago, there was talk about spending $100 million to build another women’s prison," says Manning.  "Well, my research and the people I’ve talked to at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility for women…is that 70 percent of the women there are there for non-violent offenses.  So this facility would be great to handle some of those patients.” 

Manning says it’d save money, and keep 422 jobs in the immediate area.

Correction: An earlier version of this story inferred that Oregon Representative Julie Fahey had co-written a letter with Manning supporting the idea of turning part of the Oregon Hospital into a space for inmates.  A spokesman with Fahey's office says she signed and sent a letter with several other lawmakers including Manning, but it was to simply express support for keeping the Oregon Hospital open.  

Copyright 2017, KLCC News.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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