EUGENE, Ore.-- Committing a crime in Lane County doesn't always mean serving hard time. In some cases, the Lane County Sheriff's office is finding ways for people to serve time by giving back to the community.
There are more than 1,000 people living on the streets in Lane County. With that comes homeless camps, which can pose a number of problems.
A group of offenders in Lane County recently served their sentences by tackling the problem hands on and cleaning up a homeless camp at Centennial Boulevard and Garden Way.
To be a part of the adult work crew, an offender has to be low-risk. Carrie Carver with the Lane County Sheriff's Office tells KEZI 9 News that often includes people who have committed misdemeanors, are at low-risk to reoffend or are a low danger to the community.
"Really, our number one goal when anybody comes in contact with the criminal justice system is getting them through that system successfully, but then matching them up with a way to have them perform their sentence in a way that's going to best be beneficial to them and to the community," Carver said.
She said it helps achieve the ultimate goal of the office, which is getting people re-integrated as productive members of society.
KEZI spoke with community members in downtown Eugene, who expressed uneasiness about homeless camps.
"When they're harassing random people on the streets, I'm not happy about that," Matt Sloan said. "Definitely makes me feel a little bit unsafe. But I think for females, it's even less safe."
The concerns aren't without reason. Lt. Scott McKee with Springfield police said crimes often happen around homeless camps. He said in neighborhoods near camps, there's an uptick in nuisance and property crimes.
While people are worried about the living conditions, some community members like Faisal Ahmed are hopeful programs like the adult work group will help the situation improve, for the good of the county.
"I'm just praying for all of them that someday, hopefully things will be better," Ahmed said.
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