A grand jury looking into conditions at Multnomah County’s jails found the majority of inmates have either mental health or substance abuse issues.
The yearly report found that jails and detention centers are not the appropriate setting for most of the inmates housed there, arguing many of them should be in a clinical setting instead.
The report found inmates with problems aren’t being shepherded into community programs after release — and that 70 percent of them fail to turn up, even when they are referred.
The grand jury also found the county does have some innovative programs to divert people with mental illnesses. But funding makes it difficult to find them the right kind of program.
“This report is critically important as it provides us, and our system partners, with a deeper understanding of what must be done to continuously improve the condition and management of the four correctional facilities housed in our jurisdiction,” said Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill. “This report highlights the pre-trial programs that divert people to treatment instead of jail incarceration.”
The report also found insufficient staffing levels at jails and difficulties with hiring new staff.
The report did find some improvements since last year, including a new electronic system to track use of force against inmates, and inmates no longer having to pay to submit certain medical forms.