PORTLAND, Ore. -- An Oregon man who killed two people in Portland last year was released from an overcrowded county jail just weeks before the first killing, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Crowded jails and early release have become common in Oregon, especially in forest regions such as Clatsop County where local governments have historically depended on federal timber subsidies to finance basic governmental services. But several counties have reduced jail capacity in recent years as subsidies have shrunk or disappeared.
Mark Beebout, 40, was arrested in Clatsop County in May and faced a hearing on allegations he violated a restraining order that a Clatsop County woman had against him, District Attorney Josh Marquis said. He was released days later when the jail reached its capacity.
Shortly before the release, voters in the county rejected a bond measure to finance a jail expansion.
Beebout later failed to show up for his hearing, and the body of a teenage girl was found June 26 at a Portland park. Authorities said Beebout killed a woman who volunteered at a homeless shelter in July.
Beebout met the teenager, who was originally from California, at the shelter. Her body was identified months later. Beebout has since pleaded guilty to the two killings and has been sentenced to life without parole.
"It's enormously tragic in a case like this," Marquis The Associated Press. If the county had been able to hold Beebout, "there's a good chance that one or two of these young women would be alive," he said.
In many cases, the jails make releases based on data that go into a model called a "matrix" that tries to gauge how dangerous a suspect is and how likely the suspect is to appear in court.
Marquis said the factors typically are the nature of the offense and the prisoner's history of showing up for court dates.
Beebout had been in the Clatsop County jail earlier in 2012, when he was arrested and served 30 days for failing to register as a sex offender, the Daily Astorian (http://bit.ly/13cySC9) reported.
Marquis said the registration requirement was a result of Beebout's conviction in California for sexually abusing a person younger than 16. Beebout served nearly four years in California. He had also served time in Illinois for theft.
Information from: The Daily Astorian, http://www.dailyastorian.com