Suspected rapist released with no bail, no supervision after five days in jail
An accused rapist from Keizer was released from jail with no bail and no supervision after spending just five days behind bars.
The Marion County Sheriff's Office said the suspect, Joseph Myers, 20, was "forced out" due to overcrowding, as first reported by the Keizertimes.
Myers faces 16 felony charges in the case including 12 counts of third-degree rape, one count of third-degree sodomy and three counts of unlawful delivery of a marijuana item to a minor.
It's not Myers' first run-in with the law. KATU learned he pleaded guilty to DUII in 2016 before entering a diversion program.
Keizer police said they arrested Myers on Aug. 15 of this year after officers interviewed multiple 14 to 15-year-old girls, some of them runaways.
Investigators said three of them admitted to having an intimate relationship with Myers, who's also accused of giving them marijuana and a place to stay at his home on Gary Street Northeast in Keizer.
Myers was initially lodged in the Marion County Jail with bail set at $530,000 but the next day a judge reduced it to $160,000.
Senior Deputy Sheriff Ethan Griffith said Myers was released without paying bail on Aug. 20.
"He was 'forced out' of the jail due to the jail population. He was given a release agreement and a number of conditions to follow," Griffith told a KATU reporter via email. "This 'force out' process is part of our capacity management plan. Once the jail population reaches 403 inmates and there are others that need to be lodged, the capacity management plan kicks in, which is what happened in this case. Offenders not meeting the qualifications for mandatory holds are all subject to being 'forced out' of the jail due to jail capacity."
The capacity management plan, also called a public safety checklist (PSC), is a risk tool that Marion County and other jails around Oregon use, Griffith explained.
"This is a software program that gives us a number based on previous arrests as well as other factors," he said. "The score tells us what the percentage to re-offend is."
Griffith said Myers was ordered not to contact the alleged victims, who may have been left in the dark.
"(They) are not notified by the jail if/when he was released," he said. "If the alleged victims have signed up for a VINE (Victim Notification About Offenders) account they will be able to see all that information and stay informed."
Rosemary Brewer, an attorney and executive director of the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center, said that could be a big problem.
“For some victims it can be pretty traumatic if they’re not aware the release has been done," she told KATU on Tuesday.
Brewer also said there are jail release issues all over the state.
Neighbors of Myers said they're outraged over his release.
“It’s scary that he lives there," A mother who KATU is calling Amanda, told a reporter. She did not want to publicly reveal her real name. “We live in a neighborhood that is near schools. There’s a lot of kids in this neighborhood. I don’t feel like it’s safe for them.”
Amanda said she's also worried about accountability.
“He’s been driving around the neighborhood," she explained. 'I don’t see how he’s facing society. I mean honestly how is he going about his day with these charges? ... I don’t see how he was low on that scale to get out for such crimes.”
“That wouldn’t be what I would hope for in that situation," said Jayne Downing, the executive director of the Center for Hope and Safety in Salem, which provides services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking.
Downing told KATU that a couple of months ago the sheriff's office asked her to serve on a committee to discuss how they make decisions on who to release when the jail is overcrowded.
“From what I’m learning about from being on this committee is that sometimes there is this horrible decision about – they’re all at that level and so how do you make that determination about which are the ones that are let out?” she said. “The most important thing for us is that victims know they can contact us. They can get support and help.”