Some call Oregon ‘safe haven’ for fugitives

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Some local groups are calling Oregon a safe haven for criminals because of the state’s lack of a bail bond program.

Oregon is one of four states in the US that’s considered a no bail state, which means bail bonds and bounty hunters are illegal, leaving all the work for law enforcement.

In response to the situation, the Multnomah County Warrant Strike Team was formed seven years ago when there were nearly 30,000 outstanding warrants in the county.

“If you look at Multnomah County compared to other counties, large counties across the nations, it’s very high,” said Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jonathan Zwick.

Since then, the team of four has arrested nearly 2,800 and admitted more resources are needed.

Jeremey Hubbard with the Washington State Bail Agent’s Association said he blames Oregon laws for the low number of wanted people captured. He said bail jumpers from other states find it easy to move to Oregon, where state law protects them from being arrested.

Hubbard said the state is “absolutely” a safe haven for fugitives.

The state abolished the bail bond program nearly four decades ago, stating there was no way to regulate these private companies. The current laws now allow many who commit misdemeanors in other states free to move to Oregon and not live in fear of being caught.

“I’ve talked to people on the phone. They know they are safe over there. ‘You can’t touch me, come get me if you want but you are going to jail.’ so they know they can be safe over there,” said Hubbard.

However, Zwick said when it comes to more serious crimes, agencies will reach out to them for help in catching the fugitives.

“Our team has really developed into the go to team for outside counties to call when someone gets indicted and they live in Multnomah County,” said Zwick.

Others still argued that allowing bail bondsmen in the state would take some of the load off sheriff’s deputies and increase public safety.

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