Columbia County has received a $1.2 million grant from the State of Oregon Criminal Justice Commission that officials say will improve the county’s probation program for jail inmates.

The grant will pay for a new deputy district attorney, sheriff’s deputy and a probation officer, according to a press release from Columbia County District Attorney Jeff Auxier and Sheriff Jeff Dickerson. The deputy also will receive a patrol car. This trio of new positions will become a team that identifies the best candidates for probation sentences while simultaneously stepping-up enforcement of probation violators.

“This new program will help make sure that we give probation to defendants who actually deserve it, and that probation violators will face swift sanctions,” Auxier said in a prepared statement.

Beginning in January, the probation team will identify defendants who have the most potential to succeed on probation. The sheriff’s deputy will focus his or her patrol efforts on these particular offenders to make sure they are following probation rules.

In the press release, Sheriff Dickerson added, “this program will enhance our enforcement efforts to conserve the peace in our County and expand the jail’s potential for holding violators of that peace accountable.”

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