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Governor releases 57 inmates, 4 to Linn, Benton counties

Governor releases 57 inmates, 4 to Linn, Benton counties

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Three men from Linn County and one from Benton County are among 57 inmates of the Oregon Department of Corrections who are being released early by order of Gov. Kate Brown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least 182 inmates at the prison in Salem have tested positive for coronavirus, one of the largest outbreaks in the state.

Brown approved releases based on the good conduct record of each inmate, they have served at least half of their sentences and they “do not present an unacceptable public safety risk.”

“I received a list of 61 adults in custody from the Department of Corrections for consideration of commutation. I have authorized the commutation process to begin for 57 of those individuals, all of whom are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and who do not present an unacceptable public safety risk. I would like to thank Director Peters (Department of Corrections) and her team for their diligence in completing their case-by-case analysis,” Brown said.

But Linn County District Attorney Doug Marteeny disagrees with the governor’s actions.

“This is terribly frustrating to work so hard to get someone off our streets, only to have the governor return them,” Marteeny said. “Ivory tower ideas of prison release actually hurt those who can’t afford to live in the ivory tower sections of Oregon.”

“Coming back to Linn County will be Joseph Lis, 55, Roger Clay, 55, and Donald Gamble, 65. Mr. Gamble’s sentence is already nearly completed. However, the same is not true for the other two.”

Marteeny said Lis has been convicted of 35 crimes, many of them felonies including theft, burglary, robbery, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and possession of methamphetamines.

His most recent offense was in June 2019 when he was convicted of using another man’s credit card to buy shoes at a local store and then traded the shoes for meth.

On June 24, 2019, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

“In May 2018, Clay was sentenced to a total of 64 months prison on two separate delivery of methamphetamine charges.”

At the time of his arrest, Clay had possession of methamphetamine and more than $1,000 in cash.

His criminal record includes numerous drug possession and delivery charges, being a felon in possession of a firearm, child neglect, endangering the welfare of a child and felony driving while suspended.

Gamble’s most recent charges were from January and included felony driving while suspended, parole violation, felony possession of methamphetamines and resisting arrest-disorderly conduct.

Billy Wayne Gill has a long history of charges associated with car prowls dating back to at least 2010.

In November 2010, Corvallis police officers said car prowls declined significantly after Gill and another man were charged and jailed. There had been 180 car prowl reports in September and October.

In 2017, Gill was charged with violent conduct after he and another man were involved in a fight near a restaurant in Corvallis.

In 2018, Gill was charged with unlawful entry of a motor vehicle and third-degree theft.

All of inmates will remain under post prison supervision by the Oregon Department of Corrections. 

Ten inmates will be released to Multnomah County, 12 in Lane County, seven in Marion County and four each in Washington and Clackamas counties, among others.

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