Inmate talks to KGW about 75 arrests, jail

Credit: KGW TV

Inmate talks to KGW about 75 arrests, jail


by Mike Benner and Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @MikeBennerKGW

Posted on September 15, 2011 at 7:39 AM

Updated Thursday, Sep 15 at 12:13 PM

OREGON CITY, Ore. – A man who has been arrested dozens of times in Clackamas County spoke exclusively with KGW Wednesday night about his 94 jail visits.

Gerald Smithers was most recently jailed for allegedly trespassing into a Milwaukie home.

He calls himself a "couch surfer" who has hit rock bottom, and said he's driven back to the same place time and time again by alcohol.

More: Chronic burglar confronts Milwaukie woman

If someone were to ask Smithers where his second home was, chances are he would say the Clackamas County Jail.

“It’s like family,” he said. “It’s terrible when you come to jail and they’re like, ‘You’re back.’”

Since 1993 deputies in Clackamas County have arrested Smithers 75 times. Factoring in Multnomah and Washington counties, Smithers has been behind bars 94 times.

“It’s pretty much alcohol-related,” he said. “Stuff like trespassing and disorderly conduct.”

Smithers was being held this time on a criminal trespass charge. According to Smithers, he was lost and looking for directions Wednesday morning when he walked into the garage of a complete stranger and pressed what he thought was the doorbell.

“The back garage started to close down on me and she got a little spooked over that,” he said.

The homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous, said she believes Smithers got into the garage by sneaking in her back door.

“If my dogs weren’t there or I wasn’t strong enough to get that door shut,” she said, “that man would’ve strong-armed me.”

“I wasn’t there to rob nobody or hurt nobody,” Smithers said.

Authorities aren’t so sure.

“I have personally taken him to the detox center in Portland multiple times, and delivered him to the front door, and asked that they take him,” said Sgt. James Rhodes of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. “He just won’t stay.”

“I just don’t want to do any of this no more,” Smithers said. “It’s a revolving door here.”

After nearly 100 arrests, it’s apparent that his jail sentences aren't very long, but Smithers doesn’t think he’s getting off easy. He said battling alcoholism is the worst sentence of all.